Living standard in North Borneo comparable to other nations, says banker
Published on: Thursday, August 23, 1962

NBS & SABAH TIMES (Thursday, August 23, 1962) - JESSELTON, Wed. - Mr G.R. Hedley, Resident West Coast said here today that he believed that average standard of living in North Borneo could be compared very favourably with any other country in South-east Asia.

Mr Hedley was speaking at the at opening of the Jesselton Branch of the Malayan Banking Limited. 

Mr Hedley said “It gives me much pleasure this morning to be present at the opening of another new Bank in Jesselton and to welcome its presence here. Some of you will remember this town in 1946 and just afterwards. 

“At that time, in company with all other towns in North Borneo, there were only rough plank and attap roofed shops and there were only some 200 of these. 

“Now as you can see, quite a fair proportion of Jesselton has been rebuilt with wide streets and a very attractive standard of buildings, which should be a source of pride in any town in the world. 

“Furthermore, instead of the 240 one storey old shops which we had in 1951, we now have 190 several storied new business-houses completed, and a further 130 or so started or about to be started  before the end of this year. 

“Those are pretty satisfactory figures on their own, but when you couple them with similar in virtually every town and township in the country then they are truly remarkable. 

“Trade figures reflect the same trend – the volume of North Borneo’s trade of 1947 was $37 million, in 1957 it was $242.5 million and by 1961 it had leapt forwards to $435.3 million with a favourable balance of $5.3 million.

“I know I have talked glibly of the increasing progress and prosperity of this country — it is so increasing rapidly and I believe the average standard of living can be compared very favourably with any other country in South East Asia. But this prosperity has been brought about not only by the efforts of the Banks and of Government but also by those of the businessmen and agriculturists of the country. 

“On this Coast we have essentially an agricultural economy. In 1956 there were roughly 115,000 acres of agricultural land alienated in this Residency. Last year, only 5 years later, our farmers have more than doubled the figure and we now have 251,000 acres of agricultural land. We have some 1000 families in various small resettlement schemes being helped at the moment and we are developing over 5000 acres of new wet padi land all in this Residency. 

“With further recourse to aerial survey methods we hope to be able to survey many more thousands of acres of agricultural land this year, much of which is already developed. (I believe I am correct in saying incidentally, that our Survey Department have been virtually pioneering in this new method of detailed land survey and highly successful it is proving to be too). Roads schools, clinics all follow this development. So although they are not as widely published as are some of the larger schemes such as in Tawau, Keningau or Labuk, yet we are carrying out rural development through the co-operation of many departments in this Residency, on quite a fair sized scale, and this all adds to the prosperity, indirectly, of Jesselton.

“When we started off after the War, we only had the old State Bank. Before long, however, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and the Chartered Bank, both showing great and also justified faith in the future of this country, opened branches first of all in Jesselton and then in many other towns.

“At the end of last year the Chung Khiaw Bank also opened a branch here in Jesselton and now today it gives me very great pleasure to welcome yet another Bank — Malayan Banking Limited, to help and participate in our development.

“As you have just heard from Mr Tan although Malayan Banking Limited is by banking standards a mere two-year old infant yet it seems an extraordinarily well developed infant weighing over 17 million pounds and having 58 arms already.

“I am only sorry that your Directors, who were here yesterday, to whom I had the pleasure of meeting through circumstances outside their control are unable to be present here today. Mr Tan, it gives me very great pleasure to welcome you and your staff to this town.

“I now declare open the Jesselton branch of Malayan Banking Ltd. and to you, your Bank and your customers, I wish every success in the future,” Mr Hedley concluded.

Mr Tan, Bank’s Manager for North Borneo, earlier in his welcome address described the history of the Bank.

There were over 100 guests present at the opening ceremony which was followed by a cocktail party. The guests included high-ranking Government officials and leading businessmen of the capital. 

The branch is situated at 76 Gaya Street, Jesselton.

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