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Trade Centre decision was by State Cabinet: Minister
Published on: Friday, February 23, 2024
By: Jonathan Nicholas
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Trade Centre decision was by State Cabinet: Minister
Phoong and Yong
Kota Kinabalu: It’s the Cabinet’s decision to continue redeveloping the Sabah Trade Centre (STC) asserted Sabah Industrial Development and Entrepreneurship (MIDE) Minister Datuk Phoong Jin Zhe.

He was referring to criticism and the proposal of privatising the decades-old abandoned building.

“We don’t want to prolong. The government needs to make a decision on how to move forward.

“Its quite clear the building is rundown. Many complained the car parks were not well maintained. This year ,the government has decided to take back the land.

“Initially, the land was supposed to be sold to somebody. Last year the buyer pursued the purchase, I think many people know about this.

“Ten years ago the government was supposed to sell the land. So it’s not sudden, we’re just taking it back. If we were to give it to somebody without planning, I can say it’s my time to plan,” Phoong said.

He said to receive many good proposals and welcomes input from all industry players.

Some ideas were turning the building into an SME hub, while Phoong had also consulted Shareda.

“We are not in a rush to give it to anybody. The government will regulate and manage. Simply giving the building to somebody is improper planning.

“STC should become a platform for local entrepreneurs to hold activities from matching to pitching at an affordable price while SICC follows international standards and tariff, it’s a totally different scale.

“Why not let the State Government redevelop the land as soon as possible so it does not resort to unnecessary arguments.

“Lets say I give it (STC) to somebody or I sell the land at cheap price then you can argue…but its managed by the Ministry? Nothing ‘bah’!” he said.

Meanwhile, Nominated Assemblyman, Datuk Yong Teck Lee said STC which sits on seven-acre prime land should remain and be repaired and renovated. 

“Let not the prime land be given to a private developer, probably a Kuala Lumpur developer,” he said. 

Yong said STC was conceived in the late 1980s, designed in the early 1990s, and built around 1997. 

The centre, which was declared open by the then Prime Minister, offered the best exhibition centre at the time,” he said. 

“Prior to STC, trade exhibitions were held at community centres and the Likas Sports Complex which were obviously inadequate to host trade exhibitions.

“STC was designed to be a low rise building such that maintenance costs can be kept to a minimum,” he said.

Yong said it is flawed logic for the Ministry of Industrial Development to now claim the place must be shut down at 72 hours’ notice simply because it has no occupation certificate (OC).

As management of old buildings know, Bomba has been upgrading and raising the standards of fire prevention and fire fighting systems. Some old buildings are still safe to occupy but will need more time and money to upgrade their fire prevention and fighting systems, he said.

“If all old buildings, though still safe to occupy, have to be shut down due to the challenge of OC compliance, then half of government buildings will also be shut down. 

“It is probable that the old Secretariat Building (now known as Wisma Kewangan) that now houses the Ministry of Industrial Development will also have to be shut down,” he said.

Yong urges the authorities to learn from the Wisma Kosan saga at Likas, whereby occupiers and businesses were made to move out to make way for a high rise commercial building developed by a developer from Kuala Lumpur.

“I also urge the State Government to learn from the Hotel Labuan fiasco. Hotel Labuan, which was the best hotel in Labuan at that time, was shut down by the authorities in 1997 without any plan for what happened next. Sadly, after so long, the hotel building remains standing like a ghost building.

“It is my opinion that the Government repair and renovate the Sabah Trade Centre. The cost should be only RM8 million. This is called “Low Budget, High Impact” economics. Kota Kinabalu City would then get back its dedicated exhibition centre.

“There is no need to demolish the present STC building. There is no need to build another high rise building because Kota Kinabalu already has an over supply of office space and condominiums. This real estate glut is already a strain on the local economy,” he said.

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