SIBU, Oct 24 — Sibu Urban Renewal Committee chairman Datuk Chieng Buong Toon hopes that the government could look into creating Sarawak’s first metropolis by incorporating the divisions in the state’s central region into the Sibu Development Master Plan.
He believes that this is viable in that the combined population of all divisions in the central region reaches one million people.
“The population in Sibu is around 200,000 — it is not big enough and thus, the market of Sibu is small.
“The divisions in the central region are dependent of one another, and Sibu is right in the middle. Sibu, and these other divisions, could ‘come together’ and form Sarawak’s first metropolis.
“Sibu would provide the anchor meant to pave the way towards prosperity for the central region and those in the outskirts,” he pointed out during a press conference yesterday.
Chieng said a metropolis built upon the combined areas would have the ability to become a food bank and a key industry area — securing food security not only for Sarawak, but also the whole country.
“This is my dream, and we should look at a bigger picture. Of course, it’s not an easy task to materialise this as this is a mega project that will involve various agencies, but we have to start somewhere,” he added.
Chieng also described the metropolis plan as something that could boost the economy in Sibu, and generate more job opportunities.
Such scenario would encourage more locals to stay in Sibu and help build its economy together.
“Nowadays, many young people are moving out from Sibu and going to the bigger cities and towns to seek better job opportunities.”
Chieng also believed that upon the completion of Pan-Borneo Highway, domestic tourism would get a boost.
By then, he said Sibu should already have the attractions to draw more tourists to come to this town and other areas within the central region.
“We do not want them to come to Sibu, eat ‘kampua’ and ‘kompia’ and then go back — there must be something that would pull them to come back,” he pointed out.
On the redevelopment of Bukit Assek, he regarded it as ‘being a priority at the moment, considering its bad condition’.
Adding on, he said the redevelopment of Bukit Assek would change the landscape of Sibu town.
Chieng said two meetings had been called, aimed at gaining feedback regarding the redevelopment for Bukit Assek, adding that the appointment of the consultant had been done.
On another subject, Chieng said the projects meant to solve traffic woes in Sibu would be included in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).
Meanwhile, he said the approved RM10-million Sibu Youth Innovation Centre project was experiencing a certain problem.
“There is a problem with the present site — the place is not very suitable. We are committed to finding a new place for this centre, and we have considered a few within Sibu’s Central Business District,” he added. — Borneo Post Online