Re-building Lau’s Sibu

SIBU: Barisan Nasional candidate for the Sibu by-election Robert Lau Hui Yew is a man with a vision. He aspires to rekindle Sibu’s inherent strengths and turn the constituency into a vibrant economic hub, complete with a network of downstream activities that would lure her children back.
At a forum ‘Sibu in the Blue Ocean’ held last December, he wrote of his vision for Sibu.
Below we publish an excerpt of his thoughts.
“Sibu in a way is suffering from its own success, in particular if viewing from the angle of education.
The parents put so much emphasis on their children education that there is a high percentage of graduates.
There are plenty of talents coming from Sibu; however, Sibu was and still is not able to absorb most of these graduates as the industry here is very limited and basic.
In addition, these talents have become global citizens and they will go to places that offer the best opportunities.
The vast majority of graduates that return fall broadly into three categories: First, the professionals like doctors, lawyers and accountants; Second those whose family have very established business where the graduated children return to be groomed to take over the business; and Third those who return for family and sentimental reason.
The first group will return as there is always a demand for them and the opportunities are there. It is a controlled market. However, when there are too many, then some will leave for the bigger cities.
Sibu very rarely attracts outside talents.
The only group is the spouses of those who are from Sibu and their other half has to return to Sibu to work.
There is no magical way or shortcut in achieving the aim of making Sibu the preferred choice for our children.
Sibu has to compete with the world as our children will be global citizen. That is a high standard no doubt and the burden is very heavy.
Sibu’s strength
Sibu has to leverage on whatever advantage it has.
We have to start with the industry where we have an advantage and employ the talents to work in that industry with the vision of expanding and improving on the existing technology.
We have to set a higher benchmark and let others play catch-up with our standard.
What are the industries where we are at an advantage? Three come into mind. First is the timber industry. Sibu businessmen control the world tropical timber market.
This group can collaborate and protect the market, instead of competing with each other on a zero sum game. Why let the customer dictates the price and terms?
Second, is the ship building industry.
Sibu is renowned for building small and medium size vessels. Are we taking advantage of this by improving on technology, R & D?
We are doing the subcontracting work. We should be moving up the food chain. Why not be the centre for design and build; financing, repair and services related to shipping industry?
Third is the oil palm industry. Sarawak is a new player in Malaysia compare to West Malaysia and Sabah.
Peat development
There is one area where we are at the frontier and that is peat development.
We have plenty of peat land and how to use them sustainably and environmentally is a big challenge.
Some see this as a problem. Why not see this as a challenge that holds great promises?
Our talented children can work on this area by doing research. The world is trying to learn from us. Let’s lead the world. The two seminars organized by the locals on peat soil development have attracted international participation. Have we capitalizing on this?
There is another area which we can possible exploit.
Sibu probably produce the most number of doctors relative to its population in Malaysia and that is without a local tertiary educational institution that provide for medical course.
Can we tap into this pool by staring a tertiary educational institution on this field and linked it to the industry – a world class private hospital, health care for the old and other related industry.
All the above industries require plenty of capital, time, energy and the willingness to take risk. Can Sibu take up the challenge?
There is hope yet, as Sibu citizens still possess the inherent traits for success – their hardworking attitude, high savings and strong emphasis on education.”
The Sibu parliamentary by-election on May 16 will see a three-cornered fight between Robert Lau of Sarawak Uinted People’s Party (SUPP), DAP’s Wong Ho Leng, who is also Bukit Assek state assemblyman, and independent Narawi Harun.