SPEECH BY THE RIGHT HONOURABLE DATUK CHONG KAH KIAT, CHIEF MINISTER OF SABAH AT THE OPENING OF TOYOTA COMPLEX, SABAH REGION ON 11TH JULY 2002

It is indeed a pleasure to be with you all on this auspicious occasion of the opening of the Toyota Complex for the Sabah Region. I would also like to take this opportunity to extend a very warm welcome to our Japanese friends who are attached to UMW Toyota Motor, who are here with us today. I hope this will be the first of your many visits to our beautiful state of Sabah.

I would like to commend UMW Toyota for this very impressive and modern complex and for introducing a new concept in the automotive servicing industry in Sabah. This Complex will be a new landmark and will definitely add value and enhance the image of Inanam Industrial Area. I am told that this Complex is the biggest sales and service complex of UMW Toyota in the country. I hope other companies will emulate UMW Toyota and consider Sabah as the venue for their expansion programme.

Many of us in Sabah might be still under the impression that the car workshop is the dirtiest workplace in the automotive servicing industry and a very undesirable place to visit. However, I am happy to see that the 3 in 1 concept of selling cars (Sales, Service and Part Sales) practice by UMW Toyota is not only customer friendly, but also very environmental friendly. It is heartening to note a reputable company like UMW Toyota understands its obligations to the community especially in the area of preserving the environment. I am sure that this initiative by UMW Toyota in providing excellent facilities such as customer lounge in this complex to ensure customers’ comfort will create a new dimension in the automobile servicing industry in the State.

I am pleased to note that UMW Toyota has led the way in enhancing the public impression of the automobile business and introducing a new concept in the automotive servicing industry in Sabah. The automobile industry, as you know, is associated with several environmental issues that include air pollution from exhaust emission, and disposal of automobile wastes and used parts such as used lubricant oils, tyres and batteries.

We all know that proper as well as regular maintenance of vehicles can help to maintain good air quality in terms of reduced emissions of harmful gases such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides. High levels of carbon monoxide as you are aware of, can cause dizziness, headaches, impaired coordination and, at very high levels, even death. Nitrogen oxide on the other hand can damage lung tissues and aggravate chronic lung diseases such as asthma. It is noted that some car owners and mechanics tamper with their emission control equipment, under the mistaken impression that performance and fuel efficiency will be improved. I hope the automotive servicing industry can assist in correcting this impression and also create environmental awareness among the automotive fraternity on the benefits of cleaner air, energy conservation, safer roads and consumer savings through proper and regular automobile maintenance.

The automobile servicing industry must also ensure that automobile wastes are properly stored and disposed or recycled wherever possible, in accordance with the existing guidelines and regulations. Improper handling and storage as well as indiscriminate disposal of automobile wastes such as used lubricant oils can pollute our rivers, waterways and coastal waters. The resulting deterioration in water quality can threaten aquatic and marine life as well as adversely affect coastal recreational sites. Indiscriminate disposal of used lubricant oils on land also have the potential to pollute groundwater sources.

I would also like to touch on the issue of disposal of used tyres which is an emerging problem in Sabah. Presently, used tyres are either stored in company yards, disposed in landfills or illegal dumpsites, or recycled to a certain extent. Such methods of disposal of used tyres in landfills or illegal dumpsites may give rise to other environmental problems. For instance, tyres may accumulate rainwater and serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. They also occupy a great volume of the landfill space as compaction of tyres is not possible and the disintegration rate is very slow. In this respect, we need to aggressively pursue the recycling and reuse strategy. I therefore urge UMW Toyota and the automobile industry in general to explore the possibilities of developing smart partnership and initiatives with the local authorities to minimize the problem of tyres disposal.

Before I conclude, I would like to once again commend UMW Toyota for their initiatives in ensuring that their business operations provide the required services to meet customers’ needs and expectations with minimal negative impacts on the environment. The State Government is always sensitive and concerned in the area of pollution and preserving the environment. I urge the private sectors in Sabah to emulate UMW Toyota in being environmentally sensitive when implementing their development projects so that the public will not be burdened by the impact of their projects to the environment. Towards this end, the State Government welcomes and supports any initiatives that would benefit the government, the private sector as well as the public at large.

On this note Ladies and Gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I declare UMW Toyota Complex, Sabah Region officially opened. Thank you.