ITCC ushers Penampang into modern age

(Left) Hugo Malakun, group general manager of Malakun Holdings, and Mandela Malakun, group general manager of Sabanilam Enterprise

After a 10-minute drive going south from the Kota Kinabalu International Airport, a huge construction site on the left side of the Jalan Pintas Penampang highway breaks the skyline. Covering more than four hectares, property developer Sabanilam Enterprise is building the International Technology and Commercial Centre (ITCC Penampang). It will combine a shopping complex, hotel, office tower, exhibition centre and banquet hall in one state-of-the-art development project.

“It will be a complete package under one roof,” says Hugo Malakun, group general manager of Malakun Holdings, parent company of Sabanilam Enterprise. “We are bringing higher standards, from shopping mall operations to office space development, to push Sabah further ahead.”

ITCC Penampang will be everything but ordinary. To be equipped with a fibre optic technology backbone, its internet, audio-visual and other communication links will be on par with the best in the world. ITCC Penampang’s open network set-up will also allow companies to connect directly with their respective headquarters overseas.

The centre is among the first in Sabah to apply for Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) status, which promotes the growth of information and communications technology (ICT) companies in Malaysia. MSC offers members special benefits, which include an income tax break for up to 10 years, duty-free importation of multimedia equipment, competitive telecommunications tariffs and intellectual property protection.

“We would like ITCC Penampang to be a catalyst for growth in the ICT sector in Sabah and the whole region,” says Mandela Malakun, group general manager of Sabanilam Enterprise and a brother of Hugo. “We bring technology to Penampang so local companies can benefit and learn from it and access the rest of the world.”

To support this goal, ITCC Penampang will offer the 16-storey i-Office Tower, a technology and science centre, small office/home office units and incubator spaces for start-up companies in areas such as animation and game development.

ITCC Penampang will also support tourism, catering to meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions. Its 63,000 square feet of exhibition space in the mall including the convention hall will be able to accommodate thousands of trade shows, while its banquet hall will be one of Sabah’s largest with 170 dining tables. The four-storey shopping complex with more than 600 retail outlets will cover all the needs of the tenants and visitors.

To develop its hotel block, ITCC Penampang welcomes strategic partners in building four- and five-star hotel amenities. The centre plans to put up a four-star, 295-room hotel, offering a distant view of Mount Kinabalu, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

ITCC Penampang’s hotel section holds significant economic potential as the town abounds with tourists and business travellers.

With direct routes to 13 major world destinations, the nearby Kota Kinabalu Airport is Malaysia’s second-largest, with more than 5 million international passengers annually and growing. Sabah’s pristine rainforests and renowned dive sites continue to attract tourists while its growing role in the East ASEAN Growth Area is pulling business traffic into the state.

“The Sabah economy is booming, and this is the best time to invest,” Hugo Malakun says. “ITCC Penampang will offer foreign businesses comprehensive assistance and an avenue to penetrate the Sabah market.”

The ITCC Penampang project has been described by Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman as “a new landmark for Penampang”. To support this vision, the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority provides generous fiscal incentives to investors going into Penampang’s tourism sector. These include income tax exemptions, investment tax allowances and import duty and sales tax exemptions on equipment used for hotel and tourism projects.

Despite its promising economic potential, ITCC Penampang is more than a business undertaking for the Malakuns. “My parents’ vision is to transform Penampang from a sleepy town into a more vibrant place to live in,” Mandela Malakun says.