Sabah & Sarawak: The Next Investment Frontier

Sabah & Sarawak: The Next Investment Frontier

Sabah is known as the land below the wind while Sarawak is aptly called the land of the hornbills. Even for those who have not visited either of the two states, these names evoke images of scenic natural beauty rich in exotic flora and fauna. Natural resources abound in both states and have contributed to strong socio economic growth and the development of infrastructure. The emergence of robust tourism sectors in each state is best attributed to the strategic leveraging and management of their breathtaking landscapes and multi faceted cultural heritages. However for those living in Peninsular Malaysia, removed from East Malaysia, it is understandable to overlook the impressive investment potential of Sabah and Sarawak.


Rising Property Prices

Both states are currently in a rapid economic development phase as part of the Nations Economic Transformation Programme supported primarily by the oil palm and oil and gas industries. Federal government support to intensify rural development has also increased in the last few years. Property values have been appreciating in all segments with prices for residential, commercial and industrial units estimated to have increased beween 10 -20%.

In Sabah, the emphasis is in increasing Kota Kinabalu’s economic performance and liveability. Current expansion has seen more premium property developments within 5km radius of Kota Kinabalu, making the state capital an attractive investment destination for overseas investors. Strong growth is led by Kuching in Sarawak with high rise property development being the main focus in the city.


Emphasis on Rural Development

Although Sabah and Sarawak have sizeable land, there is a shortage of developed land because of the lack of infrastructure support. Physical and economic development has been very much focused on Kota Kinabalu and Kuching encouraging much rural to urban migration.

The construction of the Pan-Borneo Highway (PBH) linking Sabah and Sarawak will span 633 kilometres and is scheduled for completion by 2025 will stimulate further economic and development. It will also facilitate the opening up of small towns and villages

The Rural and Regional Development Ministry has set aside RM2.5 billion for the development of eight rural programmes in Sarawak this year. The programmes will cover expansion of infrastructure which includes extension of roads, improvement of water and electricity supply as well the construction of housing fcailities.

Sabah is currently in a rapid economic development phase as part of the Economic Transformation Programme, which is spearheaded by Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA). Areas of focus for development have been designated as Sabah Development Corridor (SDC).


11th Malaysia Plan focus on East Malaysia

Sabah and Sarawak are set to experience accelerated growth under the 11th Malaysia. The Plan themed, “ Anchoring Growth on People” will focus on Native Customary Rights (NCR) land for Orang Asli and Bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak to promote the development of land.

The 11th Malaysia Plan will strengthen its concentration on Sabah Development Corridor and the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score). Complementing these efforts will be the construction of more than 3000 km of roads between 2016 and 2020 and the improvement of healthcare standards in the state, which will see the upgrading  of Tawau and Marudu hospitals in Sabah and the Miri Hospital in Sarawak.  Additionally a new hospital will be built in Sri Aman, Sarawak. Other major infrastructure projects include the construction of airports in Mukah and Lawas, which will boost the Sarawak’s progress.



Both states are very much in their preliminary stage of development and still has much unexplored territory for growth. The focus has been mainly in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching but growth in other parts are also gaining momentum opening  up ample investment opportunities and options particularly for West Malaysians looking to diversify their portfolios.

If you are interested to invest in East Malaysia, we invite you to drop your details in the form below and we’ll contact you to see how we can assist. You can also browse around iProperty Focus for more articles related to this topic.