Sabah can earn far more from agri
Published on: Sunday, December 08, 2019
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Sabahans are excited and look forward to the day when Sabah, in particular Kota Kinabalu, becomes a Concrete Forest State and City just like Singapore, Dubai or London.  This excitement follows announcement after announcement of plans for the Concrete Forest and Resort – Tallest building and a few 12-star hotels in Sabah, and in particular Kota Kinabalu.

These reports claim that unless and until Sabah has such Concrete Forests, it will not attract tourists.  As such, those planning to build such a Concrete Forest City are not wrong.  

Furthermore, unless Sabah is equal to Singapore or Dubai with Concrete Forests the tourists will not come.  Therefore, no matter what, the City of Kota Kinabalu must have the tallest building in Asia and a number of 12-star hotels in order to attract tourists.

Actually, what the tourists are looking for is not a Concrete Forest City or the tallest building or 12-star hotels, the tourists are after Blue Skies (free from pollution), Blue Sea Water and nice beaches.  Sabah has all these and more, that is why a small percentage of tourists do come to Sabah.  

In addition, Sabah is nearer and cheaper compared to other places nearby.  Tourists also want clean cities and places.

 Tourists do not want to associate themselves with miserable looking people such as children roaming around without proper clothes or shoes.  It looks like Sabah has a lot to do in order to sustain and attract tourists from China.  Bear in mind that these tourists are spoilt with unlimited destinations to choose from within Asia.

Sabah relies heavily on Chinese tourists.  Actually these so called Chinese Tourists are not tourists in the real sense.  These are workers from hundreds of thousands of factories in China enjoying their annual bonus.  There are hundreds and millions of these workers.  The employers decide where they should visit with all expenses paid for by the company.  

It was reported that employers in the past gave their workers one or two months’ wages as a bonus, but found this ineffective in rejuvenating employees.  Giving cash bonuses, meant the workers just stayed home and just watched TV.

 Sending them overseas gave them an opportunity to see new places and opened them up to new experiences and new

ideas.  When they returned to work they are better refreshed and far more productive.

Fantastic Sabah.  These employers send a percentage of their workers to Sabah, with more to Bali, Bangkok and Indo-China.  Sabah, is nearer and cheaper and has everything a tourist wants.  These include blue skies, no pollution, clear sea water and jungles to get lost in.  It is not because Sabah has the tallest building, the largest International Convention Centre or for its historic buildings.  

Sabah has none of these historic buildings Mosque, churches and temples were all newly built that one can still smell the cement.  China alone has millions of fantastic and historic buildings, newly built and those built a few hundred years ago.

The oldest place of worship is the sikh temple in Tg Aru built in 1920s. It won’t interest the Chinese.

Sabahans must remember that there are many unique places on Borneo island.   Mulu Caves in Sarawak is just one.

 Definitely worth a visit with   surrounding jungles and rivers.  Remember that China is a big country with millions of unique places inland, islands, lakes, mountains and numerous cultures.  It has mosques and temples built a few hundred or even thousands of years ago that not only look much better, but are far more interesting than any found in Sabah.

It is also important to remember that tourists obviously want to enjoy the limited few days they have available.  Besides the Blue Sky, crystal clear Sea Water and Green Jungles, it is also the cleanliness of the place and behaviour of the people that make for a memorable experience.  

They are not going to share the misery of miserable looking kids running around without proper clothes and shoes and rat infested smelly places.  Tourists have many places to choose from.  

Therefore, it is not only about building 12star  Hotels with price tags starting at US$2,500 (RM10,000.00) a night.  Of course there is a need for top end hotels, just like in the Maldives and Dubai.

It should be mentioned that places in Indo-China like Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam also have unique temples and historic buildings built hundreds of years ago.  Compared to Sabah, more tourist actually visit places like Bali, Bangkok and Indo-China.  Europe is old and full of historic sites with unique buildings and designs that also date back a few hundred years just like those in Greece, Hungary (Budapest), Vienna and other places.  These are the places worth visiting for real tourists.

Sabahans must remember, Sabah is an agricultural state.  Its economic future will depend on the agricultural and the fishery sector, not only Tourism.  It can be said that Sabah is gaining a reputation for its seafood among the tourists, these seafood come from neighbouring countries.  

Sabah is capable of meeting market demand for such things as fruit and fish products.  Alarmingly though, instead of exporting fruits and fishery products, Sabah imports fruits from China and avocados from Australia and fish products from neighbouring countries like the Philippines and Indonesia.  

The avocado from Australia is expensive and tasteless.  Local Avocado is cheap and tastier.  So far it can be said that Sabah Agriculture produce zero export, other than palm oil.

Depending largely on one country for tourists is very dangerous.  China is a large country with 1.5 billion populations.

 Economically it is now number one in the world betting America.  Remember also China is claiming the whole of China Sea.  It will not whatever happens give up its claim.  Malaysia is either here nor there.  

It is noticeable any action by China it is the people and not the Government – look at the Philippines banana some years ago.  Forget about the Europeans, Turks, Arabs and Japanese tourists.  The former have no funds, and the latter have no aptitude for going around the world.  

It is best for Sabah to develop its agricultural land, which will create employment and increase food, fishery and fruits for local and export.

Lastly, I wrote this piece just to point out that many have tried to make Sabah into this “fantastic State” when in real terms it is not.  It is an Agricultural State.  And it will remain as such.  It is not too radical.  

Sabahans are mentioned from time to time as the best in Malaysia, it is simply a reminder to present what is as is, particularly “the best”.  Therefore, it is important to continue with “changkuling” your land for planting food.

Sabah should adopt the American model where states focus on their comparative advantage. For instance the states in the mid west focus on producing grains while leaving the nation’s supply of chicken to states on the east coast like North and South Carolina. Similary Sabah can produce and supply vegetables and seafood for the rest of Malaysia which don’t have the advantage we have in these.


awang jambul

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