KUANTAN, 03 SEPTEMBER 2013: The rakyat of Pahang have benefitted tremendously from the wave of investments, projects and programmes rolled out since the establishment of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) five years ago and many of the ECER success stories in the State will be showcased at the ECER Open Day With The Rakyat (Hari Terbuka ECER Bersama Rakyat) which will take place at Padang MPK2 in Kuantan on Sunday, 8 September 2013.

To be held from 8.30 am to 5 pm, the one-day event is being held in conjunction with ECER’s fifth anniversary celebration this year. The programme will be officiated by Pahang Menteri Besar, YAB Dato’ Sri Diraja Haji Adnan bin Haji Yaakob.

Chief Executive Officer of the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), YBhg Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John said, since the establishment of ECER five years ago by the Federal Government, Pahang topped ECER investments with RM23.55 billion committed as at end July 2013. This is almost half of the total investments attracted by ECER since 2007 until July this year, which amounted to RM50.27 billion.

“These private investments will create some 24,100 jobs in the state, and have the multiplier effect of creating business and entrepreneurial opportunities for local businesses, especially in construction, property development, retail, transportation, education, professional services and downstream industries. They will also result in Pahang moving up the value chain with halal and technology-based industries and services,” said Dato’ Issace at a special media briefing here today.

Most of the high-impact projects in Pahang are concentrated in the ECER Special Economic Zone (ECER SEZ), which stretches from Kertih in Terengganu to Pekan in Pahang. ECER SEZ is now home to world-class industrial parks such as Gebeng Integrated Petrochemical Complex, Pekan Automotif Park, Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP), Kuantan Integrated Bio Park and Gambang Halal Park. The positioning of ECER SEZ as the Investment Gateway to ASEAN, Asia Pacific and Far East markets will be further strengthened with the Kuantan Port Expansion project.

“The success of ECER projects and programmes in Pahang is the result of a combination of public investments, private investments and targeted ECERDC programmes aimed at raising the living standards and income levels of the rakyat, especially in rural areas,” Dato’ Issace said.

“The Federal Government has invested close to RM4.2 billion in Pahang in transport, infrastructure and utilities projects for the convenience of the local population as well as to attract investments,” added Dato’ Issace.

Giving a few examples, he cited the Rapid Kuantan Bus Service from Bandar Kuantan to Bandar Indera Makhota which was launched in 2012, as well as the flood mitigation projects in Kuantan, Bandar Indera Makhota and Cherating which will improve the quality of life in Greater Kuantan.

ECERDC has also completed the construction of the Panching Water Treatment Plant which will be handed over to the local authority on 7 September. The completion of the water treatment plant will ensure uninterrupted water supply for domestic users, as well as commercial and industrial consumers in Kuantan and Kuantan Port City area.

The biggest infrastructure project in Pahang to date is the Kuantan Port Expansion which involves a RM4 billion investment, comprising RM1 billion investment by the Federal Government and another RM3 billion by the private sector. The project will be officially launched by the Prime Minister of September 7, 2013.

Dato’ Issace said ECERDC’s social development programmes have also performed remarkably well in transforming the lives of the hardcore poor and low-income families, especially in rural areas.

“Our goal is to ensure that no one is left out of the new prosperity being created in ECER and we are pleased with the progress achieved so far,” he said.

“Our Agropolitan project, empower ECER and ECER Entrepreneur Development Programmes ensure that low income groups are given the appropriate training and opportunities to become invaluable human resource assets and participate in Pahang’s transforming economy.”

ECERDC first launched its Agropolitan project in Runchang, Pekan back in 2009. Today, the Pekan Agropolitan Project site in Runchang involves the participation of 102 Orang Asli who are now working in ECERDC’s Dorper sheep rearing project. Pekan Agropolitan has also been expanded to another two sites, namely Batu 8 in Mukim Lepar and Tanjung Batu in Mukum Bebar.

The Agropolitan project uses the agriculture platform to eradicate poverty, whereby selected participants are provided employment in ECERDC’s agriculture-related projects, such as Dorper sheep rearing and oil palm plantation. The participants and their families were also relocated into new homes built by ECERDC, which come complete with community facilities. The participants, who used to earn as low as RM350 a month, are now earning an average of RM1,100 a month. A total of 415 participants and their families in Pahang are now benefitting from their participation in Pekan Agropolitan project.

Agropolitan participants are also provided on-the-job training, motivational and money management training to help them build a brighter future. The families also have the opportunity to earn additional income from secondary economic activities. Children of the Agropolitan community also took part in Sinar ECER academic programme and empower ECER, both of which are conducted by ECERDC.

empower ECER is a grassroots human capital development programme introduced by ECERDC to enhance the quality of human capital in ECER and to assist the rakyat in achieving better lives through better academic achievement for the students and higher income for the adults. empower ECER consists of Academic Training Programme which involves remedial classes and motivational sessions for examination-year students of average performance and from low income families, particularly those who are undergoing national examination, as well as Skills and Entrepreneurship Training Programme for single mothers, unemployed youths and disadvantaged segments of the rural community.

empower ECER was first launched in Bentong, Pahang in 2010 and it has since been expanded to Lipis, Temerloh, Raub, Cameron Highlands and Kuala Pahang in Pahang. To date, a total of 13,620 participants in Pahang, comprising 8,397 students and 5,225 adults have benefitted from this programme.

empower ECER-assisted examination students have recorded a 100% passes rate, with several scoring straight A’s. For adults, it is estimated that up to 80% of participants will gain employment upon completing their courses or have sufficient knowledge and practical experience to start their own business. On average, their incomes have grown to up to RM5,000 per month, and there are even a few earning as much as RM20,000 a month.

The ECER Enterpreneurship Development Programme (EEDP) was launched in 2012, and it targets SMEs and the Bumiputra Commercial and Investment Community (BCIC) to encourage their participations in ECER projects. Through collaborations with SIRIM and Agrobank, selected companies are provided “handholding” guidance in terms of marketing, branding and product training, or soft loans/micro-credit financing to take their business to the next level. To date, EEDP has benefited 210 entrepreneurs in Pahang, out of the total 580 selected entrepreneurs in ECER.

Between 2010 and 2013, the Federal Government also allocated nearly RM200 million to implement 448 infrastructure and socioeconomic projects in the former areas of Pahang Tenggara Development Authority (DARA) and Lembaga Kemajuan Wilayah Jengka (LKWJ) in ECER, including traditional villages, under the Special Fund initiative. The Special Fund, which is being used to undertake socio-economic and infrastructure programmes in the areas, has raised the standards of living and created entrepreneurial opportunities for 494,000 rakyat involved. A key strategic project under this initiative is the Jengka Sentral, an integrated transportation terminal which will replace the current bus terminal. The terminal will provide more convenience to public transport users in the area, as well as create new entrepreneurship opportunities for the locals.

ECERDC also concentrates on local talent creation. The National Talent Enhancement Program (NTEP) was launched in 2012 aims to groom talent to meet the needs of the engineering sector. Under NTEP, fresh engineering graduates and technical sub-professionals are selected for training at well-established engineering-based companies for skills enhancement. In 2012, 100 engineering graduates were enrolled into the NTEP programme conducted in collaboration with HICOM Manufacturers (M) Sdn Bhd in Pekan. In 2013, another 64 participants under various fields of engineering graduates are enrolled into the NTEP program conducted in collaboration with Kaneka (M) Sdn. Bhd, one of ECER’s investors in Gebeng.

Under TERAJU@ECER programme, 18 companies from Pahang have been selected as Syarikat Bumiputera Berprestasi Tinggi (TERAS) companies or High Performing Bumiputera Companies, out of the total 48 ECER-based companies that have been selected as TERAS firms. The TERAJU-led TERAS programme aims to increase Bumiputera SMEs’ participation in the Malaysian economy by enabling these SMEs to scale up, accelerate their growth and compete in the open market.

Meanwhile, the ECER Open Day With The Rakyat will showcase the various ECER projects and programmes being undertaken by the Federal Government via the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) in Pahang. In addition, a host of exciting activities have also been lined up for the rakyat, such as a job fair, fun activities with Petrosains, a lucky draw, karaoke contest, paint ball contest and many more.

“We welcome all members of the public to come to the ECER Open Day With The Rakyat to witness for themselves how the ECER projects and programmes have and can benefit them and their families. It is also a chance for us to get closer to the local people, whom we view as our important stakeholders,” said Dato’ Issace.