PRIME MINISTER LAUNCHES AKUAPOLITAN KUALA NERUS Integrated and Sustainable Development Programme to Uplift and Transform the Lives of the Fishing Community

KUALA TERENGGANU, TERENGGANU, 23 MAY 2016 – YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, today launched the Akuapolitan Project in Kuala Nerus, Terengganu, an integrated programme aimed at increasing household income and improving the quality of life within the fishing community.
Held in conjunction with his working visit to Terengganu, the Prime Minister was accompanied at this event by YAB Haji Ahmad Razif bin Abd Rahman, the Menteri Besar of Terengganu.
Developed through the partnership of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) and the Terengganu State Government, the Akuapolitan project is modelled along the same lines as Felda, but for the fishing community. This project will commence with the participation of over 400 fishermen and their families.
“The Akuapolitan project can be seen as ‘Sea Felda’, a scheme that is similar to Felda but specifically tailored for the fishing community. Various initiatives have been implemented by the government to raise the living standard of the fishing community but a more integrated approach is needed in both the fisheries and non-fisheries value chain to ensure a truly effective transformation,” said the Menteri Besar of Terengganu YAB Haji Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman at the launch of the Akuapolitan Kuala Nerus project, in Seberang Takir, today.
This project will create an integrated and sustainable fisheries ecosystem that includes a fisheries terminal, fish processing centre, fresh fish market and restaurants which will benefit not just the local community but attract even more investments into the fishing and tourism sectors, hence providing greater business, jobs, and upskilling opportunities for the fishing community.
Launched in the presence of the local community from Kuala Nerus and the surrounding districts, Akuapolitan involves three strategic thrusts – human capital development, commercialisation as well as infrastructure development. This reinforces the holistic approach and the Government’s commitment to improve the livelihood of the fishing community, who are mainly within the B40 income category, in line with the 11th Malaysia Plan.
Explaining the rationale behind the Akuapolitan programme, YBhg. Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John, Chief Executive Officer of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) explained, “In line with the National Blue Ocean Strategy, ECERDC has developed the Akuapolitan programme by working closely with the State Government, along with other federal and state agencies to integrate the various elements and create a holistic, comprehensive and sustainable programme for the fishing community.”
With human capital development as a main pillar in the social and economic development of the fishermen, the first core thrust allows both the participants and their families to acquire new knowledge and technical skills through the empower ECER Academic Training Programme and empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training. The participants will also receive continuous mentoring under the Paradigm Shift Programme which aims to provide them with confidence and self-motivation to succeed.
In addition to this, there is also the entrepreneur ECER programme which provides assistance to existing micro entrepreneurs to enhance their products through improvement of production to comply with the Halal certification, packaging and branding. This programme will be done in collaboration with SIRIM, Agrobank and Maybank.
“Ultimately, Akuapolitan’s goal is to increase the income level of the fishermen and improve the livelihood of their families. To do this, we are taking a people-centred approach to bring about meaningful transformation to this community. We are focusing on capacity building initiatives to ensure they obtain the right skills set to grow and prosper while their families are also given skills, entrepreneurial and academic training. This in turn, will result in the transformation we are aiming for,” Datuk Seri Issace added.
To date, 300 students from seven schools in Kuala Nerus have enrolled as participants of the empower ECER Academic Training Programme while 200 participants comprising unemployed youths, single mothers and housewives will be trained under the empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training Programme which has started in mid-May 2016 at the empower ECER training centre in Kuala Nerus. 
The second thrust is centred on increasing commercial activities, both across commercial fisheries and non-fisheries related activities. Through the commercial fisheries activities, participants will be exposed to deep sea fishing, processing of marine products, restaurant business and recreational fishing activities as these will enable them to participate actively in the entire value chain of the fisheries sector. The non-fisheries activities allow for the creation of alternative job opportunities where the community will be able to drive entrepreneurial growth through the development of SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) outlets, boutique hotels, a cultural theatre and even a marine life museum.
To ensure the needs of the participants in commercial and economic sectors are met, the Akuapolitan Kuala Nerus Co-operative will be established. This Co-operative will work with the private sector, such as through the anchor company or joint-venture model which has been proven to be successful in other ECERDC’s projects. The benefits include a stable income, annual dividends for members as well as access to training and mentoring programmes.
Infrastructure development has been identified as the third thrust, encompassing development and upgrading works especially in Kampung Seberang Pak Abu comprising housing, fish processing centre, jetty, boat maintenance facility, as well as better roads for enhanced connectivity. These developments will support the human capital development and commercial activities.
“With the Akuapolitan Kuala Nerus programme taking off, it will offer a host of opportunities for the community members to build up their skills as well as yield a greater income of up to RM5,000 per month,” added Datuk Seri Issace.
During the launch, the Prime Minister announced an allocation of RM180 million to implement the Akuapolitan project through ECERDC. He also presented certificates to the participating schools for the empower ECER Academic Training programme as well as to the representatives of the empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programmes. Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Razak also presented certificates of recognition to three high achieving existing entrepreneur ECER participants in Kuala Nerus.
“As we look to the future, we recognise the need to promote an ecosystem that not only nurtures but also allows individuals here to make meaningful choices that will help them enhance their household income and quality of life. This is in line with the government’s aspiration of building a sustainable future here through the Akuapolitan project – we are ensuring the needs of the people in the present are met, and at the same time, without compromising the ability of the future generations within this community to move forward and be part of a developed Region by 2020,” said Datuk Seri Issace.
In addition to the Akuapolitan project, ECERDC in collaboration with the State Government has also championed other projects to ensure a sustainable and inclusive growth across ECER. In fact, through the efforts of ECERDC and the State Government, Terengganu has attracted investments totalling RM27.2 billion between 2007 and April 2016, generating 30,000 job opportunities for the rakyat while the human capital development programmes have benefited more than 10,000 people in Terengganu.