Foreword by the Prime Minister and Chairman of ECERDC

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Source: ECERDC 2013 Annual Report

As Chairman of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), I am pleased to present our Annual Report for the year ended December 31, 2013.

The year 2013 is indeed significant for ECERDC as it marks the fifth anniversary of its establishment. As reflected in the theme of its fifth anniversary celebration, “Accelerating Transformation, Empowering Rakyat”, the last five years have witnessed a remarkable transformation within the socio-economic landscape of ECER. This positive development reflects the socio-economic development efforts of the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) and Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) which aim to turn Malaysia into a high-income nation by 2020.

Investments into the Region have surged, both from foreign and local investors, unlocking new wealth and job opportunities for people of the Region. The transformation of ECER into a world-class investment destination is mainly due to the progressive infrastructure and socio-economic development carried out in the Region by the Federal Government through ECERDC. For this purpose, the Federal Government has approved a RM6.6 billion allocation under the 9th and 10th Malaysia Plans for the implementation of 111 infrastructure, human capital development and poverty eradication projects and programmes in ECER.

The increase in investments in the Region is also due to the investment promotion efforts undertaken by ECERDC in collaboration with other Government agencies such as the Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI), Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), and the respective State Governments.

ECER’s natural resources, business friendly Government policies, fiscal and non-fiscal incentives and its strategic location that provides the shortest access to the neighbouring four billion-strong markets of ASEAN, Far East and Asia Pacific make the Region a destination of choice for investors. Leading the list of global names in the Region are BASF, Daimler Chrysler, Volkswagen, Kaneka, CheildJedang, Arkema, Gevo Inc. and Huntsman International LCC.

I am happy to note that since 2007 until the end of 2013, ECER has already attracted RM55.8 billion worth of investments, thus surpassing the halfway mark of its RM110 billion investment target by 2020, and these investments are expected to create 55,000 job opportunities for the rakyat. The key driver of these investments are the strategic, high impact and high-value projects implemented which contribute significantly to the ECER’s Gross National Income (GNI).

The ECER Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ) continued its role as the catalyst for investments into ECER. Key projects in this economic zone such as the Kuantan Port Expansion, Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, Kertih Biopolymer Park, Kuantan Integrated BioPark, Pekan Automotive Park and Gambang Halal Park provide the framework for rapid growth of ECER in the future.

One of the key milestones for ECER in 2013 is the official launch of the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), the first industrial park in Malaysia to be accorded national status. MCKIP is expected to bring Malaysia-China bilateral relations to greater heights and it has so far attracted investment commitments worth RM10.5 billion, which will create some 8,500 jobs. The year 2013 also witnessed the official launch of the Kuantan Port Expansion project, which is expected to be a game changer in the positioning of ECER as a key investment and trading destination.

Kuantan Port’s comparative advantage lies in its strategic location and it is well positioned to serve as a world class multi-purpose port for regional trade. With the completion of the Kuantan Port Expansion in 2015, Malaysia is all set to be one of the top trading nations in the world. The Kuantan Port will act as the nucleus of a much larger development, namely the Kuantan Port City (KPC). KPC has already started to take shape on a 13,000-hectare site that will be transformed to become a vibrant logistics and industrial hub by 2020.

KPC is envisioned as a modern and efficient city, filled with commercial activities, educational institutions and residential areas that are able to cater to the needs of harbour-related industries and trade. Other strategic projects which have had a high impact on the socioeconomic development of the Region include Pasir Mas Halal Park and Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries Park in Kelantan, and the Kuala Terengganu City Centre, Kertih Biopolymer Park and Pasir Raja Herbal & Biotechnology Park in Terengganu.

ECER’s Economic Transformation Programme is about enabling the rapid growth of the Region’s economy in a balanced manner, with the attendant increase in material wealth being distributed equitably among the rakyat in ECER. The result of this is well evidenced in the Human Capital Development programmes of ECERDC which are inclusive socio-economic initiatives that aim to create a community  of entrepreneurs in ECER. These entrepreneurs are earning higher incomes through newly acquired skills  from ECERDC’s programmes such as empower ECER, ECER Entrepreneur Development Programme and TERAJU@ECER Facilitation Fund. The principle of growth with equity is also reflected in intra-regional development initiatives across the states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and the district of Mersing, Johor.

While urban centres in ECER continue to enjoy the benefits of ECER’s transformation projects, equal attention has been given to rural areas. ECERDC has enhanced the accessibility of these settlements to job centres and educational training centres in urban areas by upgrading infrastructure such as roads and telecommunication linkages. Micro enterprises in these areas too have received a boost with the establishment of enhanced market connectivity. As a result of these linkages, rural households now enjoy improved opportunities and accessibility to non-farm activities while benefitting from increased incomes in farm-based businesses.

These and other programmes such as the rural transformation programme in the areas formerly administered by the Lembaga Kemajuan Pahang Tenggara (DARA) and Lembaga Kemajuan Wilayah Jengka (LKWJ), are part of ECERDC’s efforts in moving the rural community up the value chain so that come 2020 everyone in ECER will enjoy the fruits of a transformed Region for a long time to come.

ECER’s transformation in this very short five years is a result of the collaborative efforts of numerous parties whose dedication to the socio-economic development cause has brought us to where we are today. My grateful thanks are due to all of them and I look forward to their continued support towards making ECER a developed Region by 2020.

I would like to express my special thanks to the State Governments of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor as well as the Federal Government Ministries and agencies, and the private sector for playing a vital role in the transformation process.

My gratitude and utmost appreciation also goes to the members of the Council, as well as the Management team and the staff of ECERDC for their professionalism, hard work and dedication in ensuring the successful implementation of ECER’s projects and programmes. With the continued support and contribution of all the parties involved, I am confident that together, we will be able to further accelerate the transformation of ECER towards a developed Region by 2020 for the benefit of the rakyat.