Sibu has huge potentials to be the centre for all industrial activities in the state by 2030.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, in expressing his opitimism, said this was because of its very strategic central location and the vast hinterlands rich in resources as well as available land waiting to be developed.
He said this at the annual Hari Raya gathering organised by the town's Muslim community under the leadership of Nangka state assemblyman, Dr Annuar Rapaee, here last night.
He said another factor was that the town was also known for its very enterprising businessmen and a workforce which could prodvide a large army of technical workers.
"Sibu should make use of the new opportunities when Kapit, Kanowit, Mukah and all the areas between Samalaju in Bintulu to Tanjung Manis in Sarikei are developed either for hydro-dam projects or large scale agricultural and manufacturing activities.
"These will create demand for technically skilled people who are able to maintain, repair or produce farming and heavy machineries," he said.
He said the rural youths, despite lacking formal education, had shown promises to be good technical people through the practical exprience and innovative spirit they had acquired while working in timber camps and plantations.
"And we are now enhancing the supply by focusing on technical education to produce even more engineers, mechannics and others," he said.
Taib added the town, the third largest in the state, could also be the central banking and management hub for all these areas, as it did during the timber boom in the early sixties and seventies.
More than 2,000 people were present at the function. They included state cabinet members, local corporate leaders and some 500 victims of the June 19 Kampung Datu/Kampung Hilir fire here.
In his speech earlier, Dr Annuar, on behalf of the fire victims, thanked the state government for responding quickly with financial aid of RM500,000 and temporary housing to help 80 of the 144 families affected.
He also thanked all government departments, corporate bodies and non-governmental organisations.
"I am also profoundly touched by the very caring attitude of the general public coming from all races, religions and walks of life for coming forward in unity to help them," he said.
At the function Taib received a donation for RM100,000 from Ta Ann Holdings Berhad for the renovation fund of the Mesjid An Nur here.