Malaysian State Government chooses Murray

Published on 31 May 2022

Members of a delegation from Sabah sign a deal with the Shire of Murray

Sabah, a Malaysian province with a population of 4 million people, has inked a Statement of Intent with the Shire of Murray to learn how to deliver excellence in regional development.

In this unique arrangement, government officials from Sabah will come to Western Australia to benefit from the knowledge and skills of Shire staff, and help develop a positive relationship between the two regions.

Sabah has a similar economic context to the Shire of Murray with interests in mining, agriculture and eco-tourism. This arrangement, which is expected to last three years, will see the Malaysian visitors learn how the Shire has taken an innovative and successful approach to developing these areas.

The Shire will work with regional stakeholders such as the Peel Development Commission and other research and business organisations in the State to deliver this arrangement.

It is recognition that some of the projects the Shire is working on (Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia, Dwellingup, Peel Business Park, Transform Peel, for example) are seen internationally as world-leading developments with other countries keen to learn from the Shire’s experienced team.

Shire of Murray CEO, Dean Unsworth said the Shire shared a common mission with Sabah to enhance the social fabric of the community through a diversified innovative economy, strengthened public and private institutions, and a preservation of natural environment.

 “Amazing things can happen when we work together, and this relationship with the Sabah province of Malaysia shows that our innovative approach to socio-economic and industry development, regional development, and community engagement is of interest around the world.

“We will explore opportunities like information sharing, capability-building through projects and programs, staff exchange and other regional and industry development activities”.

Each year 10 officers from the Sabah government are expected to undertake a 10-day residential program in Western Australia.

This arrangement makes the Shire of Murray a preferred Australian partner to the Sabah Government in addition to their other international partners in New Zealand, Canada, UK and ASEAN.

Members of a delegation from Sabah sign a deal with the Shire of Murray

L-R: Shire of Murray President, Cr David Bolt; Shire of Murray CEO Dean Unsworth; Sabah State Public Sector Department Director General, Datuk Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai; Sabah State Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Rural Development, Datuk Fairmin Kamin.


The arrangement between the Shire of Murray and Sabah State will activate the Socio Economic Development Through Regional Innovation (SEDRI) program for the visiting officers.

This includes 5 areas of focus:

  1. Intergenerational Policy and Programs (e.g. Transform Peel)
  2. Regional Economic Transformation (e.g. Peel Business Park, Dwellingup Trails)
  3. Industry Innovation (e.g. Food Innovation Precinct Western Australia)
  4. Government Transformation (e.g. public service transformation)
  5. Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development

Sabah Context

The State’s strategic planning document, the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) aims to address key issues faced by Sabah with priorities including optimising economic potential and improving inclusive development.

This will include a focus on funding, infrastructure, policy, regulation, skills, talents and technologies, as well as the promotion and nurturing of local SMEs.

Continued urbanisation has placed significant stress on Malaysian local government’s ability to finance, plan, manage and administer change. These stresses are evident in many areas of community-building ranging from affordable housing, health and disease management, transport and mobility, and social stress including mental health care.

Rapid technological developments and the disruptions being witnessed in other sectors of the economy are forcing local governments to rethink traditional business models including learning how other local governments have responded around the world.