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Sabah Professionals Council doing its best
Published on: Sunday, April 07, 2024
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The Inside Out column on March 31.
REFERENCE is made to Datuk John Lo’s article in Daily Express Sunday 31st March 2024 entitled “Sabah Professionals Must Rise Up”.

In his article, Lo has conveniently touched on Sabah Professional Council’s lack of presence and queried whether it has become defunct.

On behalf of SPC, Lo can be rest assured that SPC is still running and actively working behind the scene to address the issues highlighted by him.

For the information of the public, Sabah Professional Council (SPC) was set up with the main objective of getting local Sabahan professionals who are registered with their respective Professional Boards to be in one common platform to address issues affecting the professions and to be able to contribute to our beloved State more effectively. 

The Council members consist of professional representatives from various fields such as architects, engineers, town planners, landscape architects, lawyers, surveyors, pharmacists, dentists etc.

As of now, there are at least 4,000 registered professionals, associate and graduate members of various disciplines in Sabah.

All this while, the local professionals are running matters with their respective chapters/branches and answerable to their main regulating and institutional bodies in KL with the exception of the lawyers and land surveyors who are protected by their respective State Boards.  

Not surprisingly, each tried to approach issues individually with various degrees of success and failure.

Objectives

The objectives of SPC are formulated to address some of the issues highlighted by Lo, among others:

1.1 Represent all Sabahan and local based professionals practising in Sabah via their respective local professional bodies.

1.2 Protect the interests of Sabahan professionals and in tandem complementing existing Professional Boards on matters affecting the professions particularly pressing local issues.

1.3 Engaging and assisting the State and relevant government agencies on formulating policies and guidelines by providing industry inputs and professional insights.

1.4 Promoting cross professionals’ interaction as to create synergistic and holistic environment hence producing well-rounded professionals in the face of new economic opportunities, technological advancement and managing political challenges and upheavals.

1.5 To increase public awareness on the contribution and input of local professionals to the society.

1.6 To increase competency and proficiency level of professionals in Sabah.

1.7 As a catalyst in making Sabah a well-respected professional hub and uplifting Sabahan professionals to venture beyond the State by going regional and global.

1.8 As a foundation for the professionals to setup their own localised and self- regulating body.

SPC consist of Sabahans and local based professionals practising in Sabah with the term “professional” defined as; A person who is well versed, an expert and recognised by their peers in their chosen field; Conforming to the technical and ethical standards of their respective profession(s); Bound and comply with the terms and conditions as stipulated by their respective Acts and Professional Boards; Shall be active and practising in their respective industries.

Representation of the professionals in the SPC shall be based on professions, as defined by their respective local professional bodies.

Agenda

Subsequent to the aforementioned objectives, SPC has formulated the following agenda:

2.1 Sabahan First Policy

(i) To emphasis Sabahan professionals’ involvement and participation for projects in Sabah.

(ii) To empower local professional bodies with the capacity to regulate the influx of non-Sabahan professionals into Sabah.

2.2 Economic returns to Sabah

(i) To ensure sufficient and appropriate funding and budgeting from Federal Government for Sabah continuous development with proper monitoring for local downstreaming and to avoid leakages.

(ii) To implement engagement and payment of Sabahan Professionals fees according to relevant Acts and to refrain discounting of fees in projects’ tendering exercise.

Such practice is deemed as a loss of income to the State as it contracts the ability of capacity building and affects the economic sustainability of the professional industry.

2.3 Transfer of knowledge and technology

(i) To  emphasis  on  training  and  educational  facilities  to  encourage development of professionals in Sabah.

(ii) To have mandatory policy for specialised fields to be headed by local professionals for both in federal and state projects.

2.4 State support and assistance for professional bodies events and conferences.

To support and provide incentives for professional bodies in organising local and international events and conferences via financial assistance, professional recognition, logistical support, and inclusion in the State’s annual calendar program.

2.5 Involvement of Professionals in Government’s policy and planning

(i)    To involve professional bodies in the government’s formulation of policy and planning at the inception stage.

SPC has been appointed as one of the stakeholders under Sabah Maju Jaya initiatives which together with other industry players, the organisation has diligently participated on various dialogues and forums with the State Government.  

In these engagements, SPC representatives have given feedbacks, ideas and inputs on the State Government’s policy planning and implementation.

Likewise, our involvement with Malaysian Productivity Council (MPC) as one of the industry representatives provided us the opportunity and forum to engage up to the federal level on various issues which we have the reasonable confidence our constructive comments and recommendations been taken up positively.

Another thorn in the flesh in promoting development in Sabah are the perennial issues of lengthy approval process in getting the construction permit. 

On this note the professionals are actively involved in reviewing the system together with the ministry to make it more efficient and investors friendly.

The professionals like architects and engineers are also actively involved with the relevant ministry and agencies in refining and updating the local Building Bylaws as to be more relevant with current needs and requirements.

With regards to out-of-state professionals practising in Sabah, circular from the government has been issued whereby non local professionals must be residing in Sabah with valid working permit, with working local practise branch and/or in association with local professional.

Nevertheless, admittedly there are still grey areas which need to be addressed and rest assured SPC and the relevant professional bodies are working on this matter to structure a more effective mechanism.

SPC are also looking into collaborating with others such as SYBIL, a young and progressive professional and entrepreneur grouping, and also BIMP EAGA Business Council (BEBC) to explore opportunities in the region.

Another major undertaking in which SPC is looking into are the so called “leakages” from government projects implemented in Sabah especially Design and Build projects.

The loss of spillover incomes from these projects has one way or another affected and stunted the growth of local professionals, and the local industry in general as well. 

With this in mind, SPC and the local professional bodies are formulating a memorandum and working paper to the government as to convey our concerns as it is impacting the state’s economy as a whole.

SPC has the aspiration of having a One-Stop-Professional-Centre which could be the epicentre in sourcing reliable local professionals for anyone requiring professional services. It would be a holistic initiative and game changing to the local professionals and also to the business fraternity and investors.

We thoroughly share the concerns Lo in regards to the current scenario of local professionals. SPC maybe a bit media shy. Thus Lo was not informed about the efforts of SPC.

We are more than happy to do an engagement with him and Sabah Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) and brief accordingly with regards to SPC’s efforts, plannings and strategies.

Some local professionals might not be fully aware of SPC as SPC works in tandem with the relevant professional bodies and not necessarily under the banner of SPC.

However, we take note of this and we have in our planning a roadshow to engage and brief the local professionals via their respective professional bodies on SPC.

SPC strives to be the vehicle to unite all the local Sabahan professionals, along with the local professional bodies to abridge the chasm between private and public sectors and ultimately be the driving force for the development of Sabah to be more prosperous, resilient and progressive. 

Therefore, in line with the Sabah Maju Jaya vision and aspiration.

Ar Rizal Ahmad Banjar

Adhoc President

Sabah Professional Council


- The views expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

- If you have something to share, write to us at: [email protected]



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