KOTA KINABALU: Undeniably, from Kuala Penyu on the west coast to Tawau in the east, economic progress can be felt throughout Sabah, making it one of the more advanced states in Malaysia.

The state’s tourism sector deserves an ‘A’ rating, going by the signifi cant infl ux of tourists in the various tourist destinations across the state.

The progress enjoyed by Sabahans now is the result of the programmes planned and implemented by Tan Sri Musa Aman since he became the Chief Minister in March 2003.

Musa has wisely planned the state’s development under the Sabah Development Agenda by focusing on efficient economic management and reducing dependence on natural resources.

The development agenda also focuses on the programmes to assist the poor in the rural areas as well as forging greater racial unity through power sharing as the backbone of stability in the state.

Musa is also known for the sustainable management of Sabah’s fi nances, having often received the Auditor-General’s pat on the back with an ‘A’ rating in maintaining the good financial position of the state.

The Chief Minister discusses Sabah’s development and progress in an exclusive interview with Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) editor Newmond Tibin and the agency’s Sabah bureau chief Nashir Mansor.

Bernama: Sabah is actively moving towards becoming a developed state under your administration. What is the status of this development effort?

Chief Minister: The Sabah government is committed to ensuring sustainable stability, not only in terms of politics but also economic development and social progress.

Today’s achievement is not the result of my effort alone. As I have often said, our achievement is the result of the solid support and strong cooperation of all parties, including my fellow Cabinet ministers, component party leaders, civil servants, the private sector and the people as a whole.

Our emphasis is to ensure that the people continue to benefit from our development programmes in the rural areas, as well as in the agriculture, tourism, manufacturing and human capital development sectors.

Our goal is to improve the people’s standard of living and to ensure that the momentum of development continues to run smoothly. ‘Alhamdullilah’ (Praise be to God), so far, our development efforts have helped to improve the well-being of the people, thereby reducing the gap in the standard of living between the urban and rural areas.

Bernama: Tourism has long established itself as a pillar of the Sabah economy. Will Sabah be able to continue its dependence on tourism or will any other sector such as industries take over as the main contributor to the economy?

Chief Minister: Sabah is indeed rich in natural resources, particularly the mountains, islands, beautiful beaches and unique cultural and ethnic attractions that are bringing in the tourists. With the relentless efforts of the government to enhance and maintain these attractions and uniqueness, Sabah has become a popular international tourist destination.

From the day I assumed the post of chief minister, I have emphasised and outlined my agenda. I have stressed the important sectors, fi rst tourism, second agriculture and third manufacturing and human capital development.

Today, I see that I have hit the nail on the head. We are now leading in tourism. Tourists arrivals have risen to 3.4 million to 3.5 million people, comprising both locals and foreigners. Now, we don’t have enough accommodation for the many tourists. Hence, we need a lot more hotels or homestays as I expect the arrivals to increase Annually.

With such rapid development in this sector, it has spin-off effects. In 2016, we recorded RM7.5 billion in receipts from tourism. Restaurants and the logistics business are flourishing and small businesses and farmers are also benefiting.

The creative industry has also shown huge potential in terms of creativity and being innovative. More attention will be given to this industry in terms of infrastructure and facilities to enhance and diversify state tourism’s assets as Sabah has human capital with talent and creativity in the performing arts and other creative fields, both at the national and international levels.

Hence, the state government is providing the appropriate platforms for them to explore, hone and improve the skills and talents, especially among the young people, in the creative industry. The Sabah Handicraft Centre and the Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) provide conducive platforms to highlight local talents, not only in Sabah but also at the international level.

Bernama: How much of these rapid investments and developments in Sabah will benefit Sabahans?

Chief Minister: Sabah is one of the fastest-growing states in terms of investments and developments that benefit the people as it provides many employment opportunities, skills and training in various sectors as well as stimulates the socio-economic growth of the local community.

Apart from ensuring continuous development, the state government is also making sure there is sustainable development of natural resources so that the people, especially the future generations, will continue to enjoy the wealth of the state’s rich natural resources.

These efforts also portray Sabah as a state capable of pursuing development without destroying its natural resources.

For example, in the tourism sector, the opening of many restaurants and businesses provide opportunities for our people. The hotels, including the international chains, need workers. Our young people, school leavers should be trained to work so they can fill the vacancies. We have also asked the hotel or resort owners to give priority to Sabahans in the recruitment of workers at their hotels and resorts.

Similarly, we are also developing the agricultural sector with the cooperation of the relevant parties. There are several agricultural programmes that provide good employment opportunities including livestock breeding, aquaculture and many more.

Source: http://www.theborneopost.com/2018/04/18/sabahs-achievements-not-my-effort-alone-musa/