Interview

Ng Kiat Min

Group MD of Suria Capital Holdings

The competitive advantage we have is the strategic geographical location of Sabah being in the centre of the ASEAN region and sitting along the major shipping route of East Asian main liners.

Asean Business Leaders: Could you please elaborate an overview of Suria Capital Holdings Berhad, its role in the port operations in the State and the value that the company brings to the state of Sabah?

Ng Kiat Min: Suria Capital Holdings Berhad is a Sabah-based company with core business in port operations and property development. Listed on the main board of Bursa Malaysia since 1996, Suria‘s core business has been port operation when it acquired the port business for a concession period of 30 years from the state government of Sabah through a privatisation exercise in 2004. Today, Suria, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Sabah Ports Sdn. Bhd., operates and manages 8 major ports located throughout Sabah’s coastlines, facilitating trade in and out of the state.

Sabah ports plays an important role in supporting the state’s economy as shipping is the most cost-effective method of transporting imports and exports, (coastal shipping will remain the preferred mode of transportation for goods in the state given that its land-transportation infrastructure remains underdeveloped owing to Sabah’s mountainous terrain.)

SPSB is responsible for providing adequate and efficient port services in the state as well as the development of new facilities to meet future port demand and thereby serving as a catalyst to the economic growth.

Asean Business Leaders: Could you please elaborate on which are the main projects that Suria Capital Holdings Berhad is currently working on and the added value that these developments will bring to the industry as a whole?

Ng Kiat Min: There is a plan to develop our dedicated container terminal, the Sapangar Bay Container Port, into a transhipment hub to serve as the load centre for the BIMP-EAGA (which includes Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines) and the larger ASEAN region. The intention is to leverage on our strategic location and attract more big liners to come. There will be concerted effort by various stakeholders and policy makers to promote investments and industrialisation activities that would create cargo volumes for export and facilitate the economic development of the State. This is a supply driven initiative and there is a pledge by the Federal Government to channel RM1.027 billion for the transhipment hub development at Sapangar Bay and we will be the operator when the construction is completed.

For the property development segment, Suria owns a large parcel of prime land located at the central business district of Kota Kinabalu city, facing the South China Sea with the mountain at the backdrop. We have commenced on the first phase of the property developments which include Jesselton Quay and One Jesselton Waterfront. We are also acquiring another piece of land in the vicinity and measuring 28.9 acres for the proposed development of an international cruise and ferry terminal. All our developments will complement the soon-to-be completed Sabah International Convention Centre which is State Government owned. All these projects will transform the whole waterfront area into a new city focus and tourist hub that is vibrant, attractive and financially viable and the multiplier effects of the socio-economic spin-offs will be tremendous.

Asean Business Leaders: Competitive advantage of the state of Sabah in the ASEAN region in terms of location as well as what would be your message of confidence to convince more shipping operators to use Sabah Ports for trading activities.

Ng Kiat Min: Being outside of the Pacific Ring of Fire and beneath the typhoon belt of East Asia, Sabah is blessed from natural disasters making Sabah an attractive investment destination. The competitive advantage we have is the strategic geographical location of Sabah being in the centre of the ASEAN region and sitting along the major shipping route of East Asian main liners. Sapangar Bay, in particular, is capable of attracting direct calls from the Far East and internal feedering among Sabah ports. By virtue of its strategic location, Sapangar Bay is identified as the most appropriate location in the BIMP-EAGA, especially for South Philippines and Kalimantan due to their close proximity to the major towns of Sabah. This makes Sabah an attractive investment and trading destination in the region.

Asean Business Leaders: Is Suria Capital Holdings Berhad open to establish strategic partnerships with potential investors interested in any of the projects that the company has in the market? If so, please elaborate.

Ng Kiat Min: As an open economy, Malaysia and in particular Sabah, welcomes investments that could bring along development and employment opportunities. We are a resource-rich state, blessed with abundance of palm oil, crude oil, agri- and aqua-cultural and eco-tourism products. At Suria, we are open to partnerships with investors that could value-add to the company and more importantly to the State of Sabah. For the port business, we welcome strategic partners and investors, be it local or foreign, that can establish cargo creating activities, develop industrial park and free trade zones to promote the much-needed industrialisation and stimulate the socio-economic development of the State.