KOTA KINBAALU: Tan Sri T.C Goh, President of the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Huazong) has welcomed the recent statement by the Minister of Transport, Datuk Seri Dr. Wee Ka Siong that, following the introduction of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Singapore and Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) recently, the government is also prepared to include Sabah, Sarawak and Penang in the said programme.
Goh who is also President of the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) hoped the said programme can be implemented, as soon as possible, so as to help bring in more investments and high-end tourists from Singapore.
“We eagerly look forward to its (VTL) implementation between Sabah and Singapore,” he said.
Goh who is also a member of the Sabah Economic Advisory Council (SEAC) urged this in his speech delivered at the closing ceremony of the Chinese New Year Carnival 2022 organised by FCAS, at Dataran Deasoka, Gaya Street here, on Monday. The said event was officiated by Datuk Abidin Madingkir, the Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department. Also in attendance were Mayor of Kota Kinabalu City, Datuk Norliza Awang Alip, Goh’s wife Paun Sri Joanne Ho, Deputy President of FCAS, Datuk Susan Wong, among others.
Goh added that once implemented, besides boosting investment and tourism of Sabah, the VTL programme would also facilitate the return of Sabahans who are currently working or studying in Singapore, to visit their families.
He also acknowledged that Singaporean investors and tourists are much favoured and welcomed by Sabah state government and its people, as they fit in well with the State government’s strategy to strike a good balance between developing mass tourism and high-end tourism.
“For development of high-end tourism, Singaporean tourists are obviously among the top choices for Sabah as, besides the short distance (of two-hour flight) from Singapore to Sabah, Singaporean tourists are also well known for their high-spending power,” he said.
Besides this, he also welcomed and supported the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor’s previous announcement that the state government intended to set up its trade and tourism offices in Singapore, and hoped that this can be expedited.
“Singapore is one of the 10 largest trading partners for Sabah, with a whopping trade volume of RM133 million as of January 2021; Sabah’s main exports to Singapore included palm oil, crude oil, seafood, agriculture and wood-based downstream products, among others.
“And Singapore is also a regional financial centre and an international trade seaport; it is also the base for many huge international corporations in the Asia Pacific region. If the Sabah state government established its trade and tourism offices in Singapore, I believe besides attracting Singaporean entrepreneurs, it could also attract more international investors and business travelers to Sabah, to explore investment opportunities, besides for vacation purposes,” Goh highlighted.
He thus opined that the Sabah state government should expedite the setting up of the said offices in Singapore, so that it would further enhance the bilateral relations between Sabah and Singapore, as well as to help boost economic recovery and development of various sectors in Sabah.
Meanwhile, in his speech, Madingkir underscored that the people of Sabah of various races and ethnic groups should be proud of their long-established and well-preserved racial and cultural harmony and unity. He thus urged the people of Sabah to continue to preserve such a harmonious feature, towards helping the state government to achieve it’s noble aspiration of creating a “progressive-and-prosperous” Sabah.
Besides this, he also commended FCAS for its tireless dedication and efforts in organising the Chinese New Year Carnival every year, which he acknowledged was significant towards promoting unity, and racial and religious harmony among the people of different races in the state.
He also wished that the ushering in of the Year of Tiger which symbolizes courage and vitality would bring success and prosperity to Sabah and its people.
He later joined Goh, Susan, Noorliza and the other VIPs to participate in the auspicious ‘Lau Shen’, besides enjoying the many cultural performances, lion dance performance included, to mark the ushering in of the lunar New Year celebrations.