By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, April 25: Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had cut ties with peninsular-based political parties to ensure no outside interference in the state administration.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said by going independent, the GPS-led state government could implement policies and shape the future direction of Sarawak without having to rely on the federal government.
He cited the implementation of the sales tax on petroleum products and the required permit (licences and leases) under the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 and Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016 for companies to be involved in the oil and gas industries in Sarawak as example of policies the state can impose without consulting Putrajaya.
“Developing the state has always been a problem for the government, as Sarawak is in need of capital. However, the GPS government has been doing its homework to raise capital and develop both our urban and rural areas.
“The sales tax on exported petroleum products for example, can earn Sarawak about RM3 billion per year. That is why GPS are no longer tied-up with parties in Putrajaya. We have learned our lesson.
“Now, you come to Sarawak, you must respect Sarawak’s laws,” he said when opening the 17th Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) annual general meeting and Business Dialogue at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) today.
Abang Johari added that Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) is currently in a commercial discussion with Petronas to raise more funds from the oil and gas sector.
“We have to learn to be independent. We must walk on our own without relying on a walking stick. Most importantly, Sarawak must be managed by Sarawakians.”
In this regards, the chief minister said the Sarawak government’s predicament in developing the state is similar with problems faced by Bumiputera companies to be competitive in economic participation.
However, Abang Johari reminded that in Sarawak, all companies are being given equal opportunities to grow. To move forward, Bumiputera companies and organisations have to be competitive and always strive to improve their knowledge and capabilities.
The government’s responsibility in terms of economic development was to implement policies and provide direction without much intervention on the private sector in their businesses. The goverment also provides capital injection and build infrastructures.
The business community however, must walk together with the government and find a common platform to spur economic growth, he pointed out.
Abang Johari advised Bumiputera companies and organisations to engage with other communities on both the local and international stage.
Commenting on the RM100 million airport project at Tunoh, Bukit Mabong in Kapit, he said it is a long-term policy to develop the Upper Rajang Development Agency (Urda) areas.
The airport, he explained, will help to improve connectivity in the Hulu Rajang area to spur agriculture development, as well as tourism. It will act as a catalyst for greater development covering Kapit, Kanowit and some parts of Sibu.
“Agriculture will always become a key sector to develop our economy. For the vast area in Sarawak, it is also about utilising our land. With digital economy, we can look to precision farming and IoT (Internet of Things) to spur our agriculture activities.
“Our products will be transported immediately for both local and global market,” he said.
Abang Johari added that road connectivity will be linked with the rural areas in Sarawak to open up land and promote agriculture activities including downstream industries.
He advised Bumiputera companies and organisations to equip themselves with the technical know-how and participate in the modernisation of agriculture in the state.
At the event, Abang Johari presented a mock RM10 million cheque to DCCI through the Dayak Cultural Foundation (DCF).
Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Tan Sri Dr James Masing, as well as DCCI president Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, were present. — DayakDaily