By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Jan 13: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has given his best to build a sincere government and lay the basic foundation for a modern Sarawak since he became chief minister three years ago.
To him, good governance was about being a sincere government that meets the aspirations of the people.
“For the last three years, I have done my very best to see what Sarawak could do, and to lay the basic foundation of a modern Sarawak within the era of digital economy,” said Abang Johari, in summing up his efforts helming Sarawak thus far.
It was his hope to see Sarawak achieving its target of developed state status, based on political stability and racial harmony, regardless of whether he would still be around by then.
So far, Abang Johari has been pleased with the progress of the 81 initiatives he introduced since helming Sarawak from Jan 13, 2017.
The chief minister said that to a certain extent, the Sarawak government under his administration had fulfilled its promises.
“But there are certain grey areas in terms of understanding between the federal government and the state government. And that has to be thrashed out.
“But in terms of our direction; our direction is clear. I think people are accepting of what we should do for the future,” said Abang Johari.
In terms of political ecosystem, Abang Johari said this has not been a challenge “as long as your policies are for the people.”
“That’s the key. Unless your policy is problematic, people won’t respect you. As long as your policy is right, there won’t be any problem. I tell you honestly, it is the question of sincerity,” said Abang Johari.
He gave his assurance that the policies of the Sarawak government was formulated based on what the people wanted which he described as “from the bottom up”.
“What is important is that we are in good hands, and also our policies are in tune with what people want and at the same time we must keep abreast with the whole ecosystem of what is going on in this region.”
Abang Johari said Sarawak’s good relationship with its neighbours in Borneo as well as Singapore will facilitate the state’s objective to keep moving forward.
“As I have said, we have a good neighbourly relations among our neighbours in Borneo, and I think with that sort of understanding we can move forward further,” said Abang Johari at a meet-the-media session held on Jan 6, 2020 at his office, in conjunction with his third anniversary as chief minister.
During the session with the media, Abang Johari first highlighted the continual effort to regain the eroded rights of Sarawak which was brought to Sarawakians’ attention by the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem.
He then talked about his effort in improving the quality of education and its facilities, especially in repairing dilapidated schools as well as increasing loans and scholarship.
The third area he highlighted was rural development where he expressed his determination to eradicate rural poverty.
Abang Johari also talked about Sarawak’s efforts in generating more revenue, referring to the Sarawak government taking over Bakun HEP dam.
The purchase of Bakun was important as it gave Sarawak full control of its energy, both consumer and industrial tariffs, where as a result, Sarawak was exempted from the national tariff hike imposed recently.
The building of more dams such as the Batang Ai, Murum and Baleh HEP dams, according to Abang Johari, has allowed Sarawak to harvest green energy and sell it to Indonesia with new clients such as Brunei and Sabah on the horizon.
On a new strip of income such as 5 per cent sales tax, Abang Johari was confident that Sarawak’s constitution would allow the tax to be collected from Petronas which has been mining Sarawak’s oil and gas for decades.
Sarawak Petroleum Berhad (Petros), which was one of his earlier initiatives since becoming chief minister, would allow Sarawak to participate in the upstream and downstream activities of Sarawak’s oil and gas industries which would further increase the state’s income.
Abang Johari also talked of his agenda to digitise Sarawak where he plans to see IoT applied to transform various sectors especially agriculture and tourism.
Last and not least, Abang Johari spoke on racial and religious harmony where he stressed that the good teaching in every religion will be the backbone for Sarawakians’ mutual respect and understanding of each other.
Abang Johari took up the chief minister post on Jan 13, 2017, following the passing of late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem. Since then, he has launched 81 initiatives encompassing various aspects of building up Sarawak, such as regaining Sarawak’s lost rights, leapfrogging Sarawak’s economy through digital and technological development as well as revenue re-engineering, injecting funds to boost infrastructure in rural areas, fair religious and racial policy and many others.
To achieve the 81 initiatives, Abang Johari listed three factors, namely the necessary ingredients to move forward, the confidence and the human resources.
Recounting his 40 years of experience in politics and administration, he expressed the confidence to bring Sarawak forward. He said that Sarawak had all the necessary ingredients, including natural resources and political stability as well as racial and religious harmony. Meanwhile, on talent resources, he acknowledged that there were many Sarawakians working overseas as the state had yet to produce an ecosystem which could match the training of these outstanding Sarawakians.
The only way he could stem brain drain and draw the talents back to the state was to lift Sarawak’s economy and create an ecosystem where the talents of these Sarawakians may be put to good use. —DayakDaily