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LAHAD DATU CAN BE SABAH'S LARGEST CITY

LAHAD DATU, Wed. (15 Aug, 2007) - Lahad Datu has the potential of becoming the biggest city in Sabah in 20-25 years, and moves are underway to elevate it to municipality status.

"All the potentials of Lahad Datu lie in the fact that it is strategically located, it has the best natural harbour and it lies in the heart of Sabah's p\oil palm belt," said Dr Pang Teck Wai, the chief executive officer of state-owned POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd.

He was addressing about 50 guests, comprising heads of departments and agencies and their key officers, at the Appreciation Lunch which POIC Sabah hosted here yesterday.

The lunch was held as a mark of appreciation to the officers who have contributed to the successful implementation of the palm oil industrial cluster in Lahad Datu (POIC Lahad Datu). It was held in conjunction with the completion and handing-over of infrastructure works by its contractors.

Also present was the Lahad Datu District Officer, Encik Amat Mohd Yusof, who is also the chairman of the Lahad Datu District Council.

Dr Pang commended Encik Amat for his leadership in harnessing and rallying the support of all relevant departments and agencies in Lahad Datu to enable POIC Lahad Datu to be transformed from an idea to reality in just over two years.

"Your leadership, and the success of POIC Lahad Datu so far is a testimony that with the right leadership, the government delivery system can be efficient, and we look forward to using this outstanding culture as we further develop POIC Lahad Datu."

Dr Pang revealed that POIC Lahad Datu, which has completed its initial two phases totaling 1,150 acres, is working on a third phase which will likely include minor clusters of timber- and cocoa-based factories, aside from palm oil-related downstream industries.

He envisaged that due to the absence of deep-water harbours in the Kalimantan provinces (Indonesia's oil palm heartland) and southern Philippines, palm oil and lauric (coconut) oil respectively are expected to flow into POIC Lahad Datu.

With its natural 20-meter port, POIC Lahad Datu can become the world largest vegetable oil hub, aside from being the town with the largest dedicated palm oil industrial cluster.

"I see Lahad Datu becoming a version of Rotterdam (the major European port city located in the Netherlands), with population growing to perhaps one million in 20 to 25 years' time," he said, adding that town planning experts are being flown into Lahad Datu to conduct preliminary surveys on how Lahad Datu should be planned and developed in order for it to tap its potentials as a livable industrial city of the future.

Dr Pang also visited the SPC Biodiesel plant, which is the first biodiesel plant in Sabah and the first factory to have commenced operation in POIC Lahad Datu. This plant involves Australian and Malaysian interests.

He also visited the Global Bio Diesel plant. This plant, which is controlled by a Korean group, has a first-phase capacity of 200,000 tonnes of biodiesel per year, making it the biggest plant of its kind in Malaysia. This phase is expected to be completed this October.

SPC and GBD are among 12 companies which have purchased land at POIC Lahad Datu. The companies are involved in biodiesel, fertilizers and logistics.


Dr Pang (centre) being briefed by Mr Frank Wakefield (right), the Director of Special Projects of SPC Biodiesel Sdn Bhd, at SPC's biodiesel installations at POIC Lahad Datu on Tuesday, Aug 14.



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