KOTA KINABALU (April 23): Sabah’s first maritime academy has been proposed to boost knowledge and development in the sector and position the state’s east coast as a regional maritime hub.
Three entities – POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, University College Sabah Foundation (UCSF) and BIMP-EAGA Maritime Academy Sabah Sdn Bhd (BEMA), on Saturday signed a Memorandum of Understanding for strategic cooperation to launch a project with significant ramifications of the plan from Sabah. for Eastern Sabah, centered on POIC Lahad Datu which is developed by POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd.
POIC Lahad Datu, developed since 2005, is an industrial park served by a deep water port located along the Lombok-Makassar sea route. POIC Sabah plans to leverage its strategic location to develop Lahad Datu and Eastern Sabah into a logistics hub for the BIMP-EAGA region. Meanwhile, the state is considering an international airport and shipping hub at Lahad Datu to create regional connectivity (sea, land and air) leading to greater economic growth and linkages.
The MoU was duly signed by Managing Director Datuk Fredian Gan for POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd, Vice Chancellor Dr Mohamed Haleem Bin Mohamed Razi for UCSF and Director Datuk James Bin Ibrahim for BIMP-EAGA Maritime Academy Sabah Sdn Bhd .
POIC Sabah President Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee and Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Hj Mulia, Special Envoy and BIMP-EAGA Advisor to YAB CM Sabah signed as witnesses.
Yong, whom the memorandum of understanding designated as chairman of a working committee for the realization of the Maritime Academy, said preliminary contacts had been established with an institution in China for academic and technical contribution to the proposed academy, which matches POIC Sabah’s vision for a logistics hub region.
“Sabah has many maritime assets such as ports and ports, but the state as a whole has negligible stake in what is a massive economic sector with great potential for growth.”
He said the proposed academy will present and operate as an international institution guided by global industry credentials. The BIMP EAGA Business Council will ensure that this academy project is placed on the agenda of activities of the main body of EAGA.
Dr Mohamed Haleem described the MoU as “historic” as it brought together parties with different knowledge, expertise, technology and experience. He planned an open and internationally connected maritime academy.
Speaking on behalf of BEMA, James said the proposed academy will focus on identifying the needs of different industries to formulate demand-driven knowledge, products and services.
“Partnering with industries will ensure that the skills developed (at the academy) translate into jobs.”
While details are being worked out on the plan, it is understood that the academy will be set up at POIC Lahad Datu, with UCSF to administer the academy while BEMA, a unit of the BIMP-EAGA Business Council , connects all governments and private sector institutions of BIMP nations.
Some preliminary ideas about the academy are that it will promote the exchange of students with similar academies of EAGA, produce certified trainers to enrich human resources in sea-related skills in EAGA.
“EAGA territories are connected. The waters of the South China Sea, Sulu Sea and Celebes Sea wash our coasts,” Yong said.
“A marine academy will help develop marine human capital and strengthen our region’s position on the global logistics map.”