KUCHING, June 29: In view of increasing cross-border trade and travel at the Lubok Antu (Sarawak)-Badau (Kalimantan) border, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has suggested the setting up of a cross-border railway system between the two countries.
He said the railway system could be used, for instance, to transport goods from the Indonesian side to the state’s new port in Tanjung Manis.
“If we were to build roads (instead), it would not last very long because of the (cargo) load factor. But if we have a rail, then it can easily bring cargo from Badau to Tanjung Manis.
“This is just a suggestion to enhance our relationship, particularly economic and trade, between the two countries,” he said at the Indonesia-Sarawak Cultural Night event at a hotel here on Thursday.
Abang Johari also suggested that Sarawak and Indonesia collaborate in the field of telecommunications. This is because Sarawak was turning into a digital economy, and by working together with Indonesia, it would be possible to connect Kalimantan to the telecommunication network grid.
When this happens, it would not only improve the Internet connection between Sarawak and Indonesia but could also improve bilateral trade, where both sides could collaborate to integrate each other’s online payment systems.
“That means maybe one day we have a mobile online payment between Kalimantan and Sarawak, so we don’t have to bring a lot of cash with us when we go to either side of the border … just use our mobile phones.
“Maybe Sarawak Pay can work with the Indonesian online payment system,” he said.
On another matter, Abang Johari assured that Sarawak would continue to assist Indonesian workers in Sarawak, particularly in terms of education and health.
For instance, Sarawak would continue to support Indonesia in the setting up of Community Learning Centres (CLCs) all over the state, especially in sites where Indonesian workers are working so that they could send their children to school.
Abang Johari told those present that Sarawak had been building more private hospitals all over the state to facilitate healthcare services for health tourists from Indonesia.
“As you might have noticed, we are building more hospitals in Sarawak, and this would definitely provide facilities to facilitate our friends from Indonesia to have treatment here.
“Perhaps some may come to Kuching and straight to Singapore (for advanced treatment). This can be an area where we can explore and work together between Malaysia and Indonesia,” he pointed out.
Abang Johari sepaking at the Indonesia-Sarawak Cultural Night on Thursday.
Abang Johari (centre) bids farewell to Indonesia Consulate-General in Kuching Bapak Jahar Gultom while Minister of Tourism, Art, Culture, Youth and Sport Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (left) looks on at the end of the Indonesia-Sarawak Cultural Night on Thursday. Bapak Jahar will be serving his last day as the Indonesian Consulate-General here tomorrow before going back to Jakarta. — DayakDaily