Include Sabah in the NSR: CM

KOTA KINABALU: There is a need for the State Government to explore how best to lobby the Chinese authority and provincial governments to officially include Sabah in China’s 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (New Silk Road) routes.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (pic) said it is necessary if Sabah were to fully harness the benefits and economic opportunities that come out of the New Silk Road (NSR) initiative.

He said Sabah has been left out of the loop despite its strategic geographical location.

“This is most unfortunate as Sabah has been trading with ancient China since over 600 years ago during Admiral Cheng Ho’s era as shown by well documented historical records,”

He said this in his speech read by Deputy Minister cum Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Palingma Wilfred Madius Tangau at the inaugural New Silk Road (NSR) Asia Pacific Forum 2019, Friday.

“The NSR initiative was launched by China’s President Xi Jinping in 2013, it has not only ushered in many infrastructure development projects to countries along the NSR region, but also huge economic benefits, opportunities as well as numerous culture, technology, ideas, and possible influx of population.

“China being Malaysia’s top trading partner will inevitably play a most important and significant role, especially with its NSR to help and propel Malaysia to achieve its shared prosperity vision by 2030,” he said.

He added that a proper and holistic grasp of NSR is crucial in developing strategies to navigate its intricacies.

“The State Government will play its role to promote, facilitate, encourage, support and welcome investment from any one of the 31 Provinces in China,” he said.

Meanwhile, the forum’s Organising Chairperson Dr Damien Lee said the original idea of the NSR was to restore the famous ancient silk route to increase connectivity between the Asian, European and African continents.

“Ultimately it is to enhance trade flows and spur long-term regional economic growth and development,” he said.

However, Damien said that the NSR has been a hotbed for debates and discussion ever since its inception, especially over its seemingly vague and suspicious agendas.

“China reiterated that NSR is not a geopolitical tool but a platform for cooperation to seek for equitable, open, all round peaceful and cooperative development with all countries along NSR, working on a ‘win-win’ outcome and situation,” he said.

On the forum, he said it aims to raise awareness and understanding of NSR which is lacking among Sabahans.

“It is also to take stock on NSR and to build network and connectivity, not so much on Central Government to Central Government where Malaysia already fully pledged to support NSR.

“But it is more on China Provincial Government to State Government (PG2SG) level, and more so on Business to Business (B2B), People to People (P2P), and Culture to Culture (C2C) as China has 31 huge provinces to tap into.

“It also focuses on Sabah to China collaboration in NSR opportunities within the agriculture, tourism, culture and environment, trade and investment sectors, especially engaging the SMEs as over 98 per cent of business establishments follow under this category.

“In short, it is to explore the most doable, practical and effective strategies and mechanism, with feedback from both the private and public sectors, business and the civil society, for Sabah to move forward,” he said.

During the event, NSR Network and Malaysia Maritime Silk Route Research Society respectively exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Brunei China One Belt One Road Association to declare their collaboration, witnessed by Wilfred.

By: Anthea Peter

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