No Future in SFI Restructuring

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Sabah Education and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob was quoted as saying that the state government was in the final process of restructuring Sabah Forest Industries (SFI) factory operations.

SFI has not been profitable for years and at this point, the employees are just coming in to work in an empty office without anything to look forward to. There is no career development, no bonus, no increments, the company is stagnant, and the surrounding area has not seen any long term improvements.

At this point, a simple restructuring is not going to save SFI in the long term. The restructuring seems to be an act of slapping a plaster on a bullet hole – eventually the coffers are going to bleed dry and they will face the same situation of being unable to pay the workers yet again. Nothing will change with this so-called solution.

And here is the Warisan government acting as if they are doing everyone a favour by helping to restructure SFI – when they were the ones who put SFI in this position in the first place! It’s incredible the way they are positioning themselves as if they are the martyrs sacrificing state funds for the good of SFI employees when they didn’t seem to care earlier. It was the Warisan gov that purposely put a stop to the sale of SFI to a company willing to invest in the further development and infrastructure of SFI and Sipitang.

We’d like to point out that this company, Pelangi Prestasi Sdn Bhd, had plans to build a biohub encompassing biofuel, forest management, pulp and paper, bioenergy, solidwood products, and biochemicals. This would mean that there would be investments into biorefinery and logistics infrastructure, and this would result in a far more sustainable venture that sticking to only pulp and paper.

This investment into developing related industries would also mean that there will be new jobs created. The estimated number of new jobs that would come from the biohub is 42000. Sabah is facing an unemployment issue, and even 2000 available jobs could have have made a huge difference, what more over 40000.

The Warisan government has been doing an excellent job of shooting itself in the foot so far. Before claiming that they want to help the employees of SFI, maybe everyone should ask them why they forced the employees into this situation in the first place. Why did they choose to throw out plans to help develop SFI and Sipitang? Why are they choosing a short-term solution when they can have a sustainable one? More importantly, when will the Warisan government start putting the people first?

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