THE petrochemical industry is an important sector in Malaysia. It is no surprise for industry giants such as Kaneka Corp of Japan to have picked Malaysia as a base in the mid-1990s.
Kaneka established its first subsidiary in the country in Gebeng in August 1995 through Kaneka (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd. Its presence contributed to the development of various industries, particularly in petrochemical, chemical and functional plastics.
To date, the total investment by Kaneka stands at about RM1.7 billion.
Kaneka Malaysia has been expanding through the support from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and the technical know-how from its parent company.
MIDA said the development of Malaysia’s petrochemical industry had been driven by the availability of hydrocarbon feedstocks from indigenous oil and gas.
Since 1980, MIDA has approved many major projects related to petrochemical products, with estimated total investments of RM200 billion.
Being an essential component in the chemical sector, the petrochemical industry has a greater potential and strong capability to diversify towards more complex and high value-added products.
In addition, the existence of a developed petrochemical sector in Malaysia has contributed to the growth of the domestic downstream plastic processing activities.
Since its setting up, Kaneka Malaysia has made its presence felt by fostering close ties with surrounding villages and schools through a string of activities, which have helped to raise awareness of potential hazards in the area around the Gebeng industrial plant.
The company, through tie-ups with several technical universities and institutions in Malaysia, aims to groom local expertise to meet the needs of the engineering sector.
Kaneka Malaysia, which is the first foreign investor in the East Coast Economic Region to participate in the National Talent Enhancement Programme, has established ties with Institut Teknologi Petroleum Petronas Sdn Bhd, Pahang Skills Development Centre, Kolej Yayasan Pahang, Universiti Malaysia Pahang and Universiti Teknologi Petronas.
Kaneka Malaysia director and plant general manager Syed Ahmad Syed Idrus AlHabshi said on average, the plant served as a training ground for between 20 and 30 interns monthly.
“The training duration is usually between three and seven months and to date, we have offered
full-time jobs to 26 of our outstanding interns.
“Kaneka regularly participates in round table meetings with local universities to provide first hand inputs from the industry’s viewpoint to help improve the respective institutions curriculum for students.
“This is to ensure the undergraduates are equipped with the required skills that will prepare them before going into the workforce,” he said, adding that the round-table sessions were held on an annual basis.
On job employment, Syed Ahmad said 80 per cent of the employees in Kaneka were from the East Coast states, while 35 local talents were now positioned in several managerial posts.
Apart from Kaneka Malaysia, Kaneka also owns Kaneka Eperan Sdn Bhd, Kaneka Paste Polymers Sdn Bhd, Kaneka Innovative
Fibers Sdn Bhd, Kaneka Apical Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Kaneka MS Malaysia Sdn Bhd.
The group said with MIDA’s support, the company had been able to intensify its skills development and further enhance its products.