A revised SMM2H will be tabled at the State Assembly

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KOTA KINABALU: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor said a revised Sabah Malaysia My Second Home (SMM2H) programme will be tabled at the State Legislative Assembly soon.

He said the SMM2H programme has been fine-tuned to make Sabah attractive to foreigners wishing to move here.

“The influx of talent and expertise will benefit us, especially for our Sabah Malaysia My Second Home (SMM2H) programme that will be tabled at the State Legislative Assembly soon. We hope to see more high-value talents, including from South Korea, moving to Sabah,” he said.

The Chief Minister said Sabah is now home to approximately 2,000 Koreans, most of whom reside in the State Capital.

“We are certainly encouraged to see the steadfast and resolute presence of the Korean community here,” he said at  the official opening of the Republic of Korea Consulate in Kota Kinabalu at Plaza Shell today.

“Though this number is relatively small, we are heartened by their active participation in our state’s economy. Collectively, they have made a significant impact, as many have chosen to settle here and bring a rich and diverse wealth of experiences and skills,” he said.

Hajiji said the setting up of the Korean Consulate here was a significant next step in the expansion of South Korea’s diplomatic and consular network as it sought to build and enhance regional and global relations.

“Malaysia and the Republic of Korea have come a long way, having had six decades of cooperation following the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1960. Since then, we have made much progress in exchanges and cooperation in many fields,” he said.

In 2022, the Republic of South Korea was listed as Malaysia’s eighth-largest trading partner and eighth-largest export destination, while trade relations between Sabah and South Korea have grown steadily, with Sabah’s trade export to South Korea registered at RM4 billion and Sabah’s imports from South Korea at RM900 million last year. 

“The crowning jewel of this to date is, of course, South Korea’s RM2.3 billion SK Nexilis copper foil manufacturing project, one of Sabah’s largest foreign investments,” he said.

“The high-impact investment promised not only employment opportunities for Sabahans but also playing a vital role in advancing Sabah’s industrialisation and transitioning it into a sophisticated economy that will continue to benefit the South Korean stakeholders and the region,” he said.

“There is much Sabah and the Republic of South Korea can leverage further on our respective strengths. For Sabah, my government is guided by our development roadmap, the Hala Tuju Sabah Maju Jaya, and our commitment to growth is unwavering. 

“Sabah is open for business, and we would like to see more investors coming to Sabah to establish win-win business deals and partnerships,” he said.

“As we speak, tourism in Sabah continued to grow strongly in 2023. South Koreans are a major contributor, with arrivals recorded at 95,966 (an increase of 2,705.2 per cent) from January to June 2023.  

“As of September 2023, Sabah is connected to two cities – Incheon and Busan in South Korea with 23 flights and 4,409 seat capacity weekly. I am pleased that Sabah continues to be a sought-after destination for South Koreans,” he said.

Hajiji said the strong growth showing overall visitor arrivals to Sabah registered at 1.2 million arrivals from January to June of this year and generating RM2.45 billion in tourism receipts is a good sign.

He said Sabah looked forward to more cooperation with the Consulate of the Republic of Korea to facilitate trade and investments as well as in other areas of equal importance such as cultural, technical and educational exchanges.  

“We acknowledge the special role the Consulate will play in promoting bilateral relations and serving as a bridge to make connections. Together, we can achieve new heights and contribute to the prosperity of both Sabah and the Republic of Korea,” he said.

Also present were Deputy Chief Minsters Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Joachim Gunsalam, Datuk Ir Shahelmy Yahya, Cabinet Ministers, South Korean Ambassador to Malaysia, Yeo Seung-Bae and senior Korean embassy officials.

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