Chamber wants more Orang Ulu professionals appointed

Mutang Tagal during the interview. Photo: Munirah Zhamri & Ghazali Bujang

KUCHING: The Orang Ulu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OUCCI) has appealed to the state government to consider granting a number of suggestions, including appointing qualified and experienced Orang Ulu professionals to sit on the boards of state government linked companies and their subsidiaries.

Its president Datuk Mutang Tagal mentioned Sarawak Economic Development Corporation, Land Custody and Development Authority, Yayasan Sarawak, Sarawak Energy Berhad, Petroleum Sarawak Berhad and others as examples.

In addition, he suggested for the Sarawak civil service to employ more Orang Ulu professionals and support staff to be more inclusive in the state’s administration.

He also raised the suggestion to set aside and allocate 30 percent or more of the RM1.5 billion sum given to each of the three state development agencies — Upper Rajang Development Agency, Highland Development Agency and Northern Region Development Agency — to Orang Ulu contractors, consultants and business community through the Chamber.

“Some of the Chamber contractors bid and tendered for contracts issued by the Regional Corridor Development Authority within the last few years, but unfortunately, none of these Chamber contractors succeeded in these open tenders,” he noted.

He said this in his speech at the launching ceremony of OUCCI at The Waterfront Hotel here today, which Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg officiated at.

Mutang requested the allocation of a suitable piece of state land within the prime area in Kuching for the establishment of OUCCI’s headquarters as well as some other commercial development, similar to other chamber of commerce buildings in Kuching.

He also called for the establishment of more food baskets and handicraft terminals in the rural areas.

“Local industries such as crops farming and handicrafters will have a platform to market their products. This, in turn, would help to support and further encourage the development of these industries,” he said.

He said the state government should set up more collection centres for handicraft and tourism related products at each longhouse or village cluster to facilitate marketing, as well as more agro processing centres in order to encourage more business and economic opportunities among the community.

“A comprehensive physical and digital marketing infrastructure and network is needed to enhance production of food baskets from these areas,” he said.

He also suggested for the state government to set up an agropolis or sub-tropical agro tourism clusters in the highlands.

“In Sabah, they have Kundasang; in Malaya, Cameron Highlands; in Sarawak we have Meligan and Kelabit Highlands which we can develop as integrated highland food baskets for the state,” he said.

On another matter, Mutang said financing is always a problem for Orang Ulu entrepreneurs despite the government’s best efforts to assist Bumiputera entrepreneurs.

As such, he hoped that government funding through selected banks and institutions such as Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS), SME Corp, AgroBank, SME Bank, and others would be more lenient in their lending policies to Orang Ulu and other Bumiputera businesses.

“DBOS may consider setting a subsidiary to assist small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the state in their funding needs,” he said.