Plans to restore the status of Sabah and Sarawak as equal (economic) partners with Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia), is a far-reaching move signalling the start of the larger, overdue decentralization process for Sabah and Sarawak since their signing of the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63), says Anbound Malaysia.
Anbound Malaysia, a research agency from Beijing with offices in Kuala Lumpur says Putrajaya will begin in the coming months, the devolution of powers to Sabah and Sarawak as stipulated within their respective 20-point and 18-point memorandums.
For Sabah, the 20-point memorandum includes its allocation of powers over religion, transport, language, immigration, citizenship, finance and tariffs, representation in Parliament, land and forest and local government, it says.
“Translated on the ground, this will denote higher development funds, more infrastructure and industrial projects and better workforce-training especially with Sabah given further autonomy in the jurisdictions of finance, transport and education,” said the Research agency.
Chia Siang Kim a Researcher at Anbound Malaysia believes this will also mean the North Borneo state will may experience wide-ranging economic developments unlike before; while, it also unleashes Sabah’s new economic potentials for both locals and foreign investors.
“This begs the critical question: What are Sabah’s new economic potentials in the next few years and which areas are worthy of investment? From our study, Anbound identifies four new economic potentials for the North Borneo state, in tourism, agro-aquaculture, logistics and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors,” wrote Chia.
The report says Sabah’s well-rounded tourist haven, agro-aquaculture sector (if developed could diversify Sabah’s state income away from crude dependence on palm oil and timber export), it’s potential maritime logistics hub for the region and the potential to become another emerging smart state just like Selangor, Penang and even its neighbour, Sarawak, will get a boost from the restoration of the status of the state.
“With all these four economic potentials in mind, we should expect Sabah to utilise the coming wave of decentralisation.
“As part of East Malaysia lags economically in relation to West Malaysia, this North Borneo state has every potential to shine as the new growth engine of Malaysia and the region.
“It is high time for local and foreign investors to consider moving their investments into the ‘Land below the Wind’,” says Chia.