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In a dramatic move on February 17, the state government halted bidding for a new 300-MW coal-fired power station in Lahad Datu, citing environmental concerns. Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman told local press that, “Sabah needs to increase power supply to meet the increasing development, but the state cannot afford to put its natural environment at risk.” He noted that protecting Sabah’s environment was crucial for the growing tourism sector, particularly given the state’s efforts to promote nature tourism.
Investment in a range of property, from low-cost housing to top-end resorts, is driving Sabah’s construction and real estate sector, while labour reforms may be set to keep costs for contractors down. Some 20,000 affordable housing units will be built in Sabah over the next five years under a new partnership formed between the Sabah Housing and Town Development Authority (SHTDA) and Malaysia’s Probil Sonati Development, local press reported on February 8.
A recent state government announcement that it was licensing an automobile manufacturing plant to make parts for luxury passenger vehicles could lead to new jobs and a much-needed new industry sector, boosting Sabah’s export potential. However, manufacturers have voiced concerns that this might be affected by a controversial Malaysian government policy – cabotage – and its effects on Sabah’s efforts to develop new industries.
The state government of Sabah is taking the long view when it comes to expanding its tourism industry, placing limits on the number of visitors to pristine natural areas, not only for environmental but also economic reasons.
The digital age will be heading deeper into the heart of Borneo soon – that was the message delivered by Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum in Sarawak recently. The Minister said in early December that more than 500 villages in Sabah would gain access to the internet via satellite next year as part of the “Kampung Wi-Fi” project.

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