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By Nancy Nais and Karen Bong
KUCHING, March 18: Sarawak cannot rely on “others but ourselves” to accelerate building the State up through continued investments in public infrastructure like roads, bridges, electricity, water supply and telecommunication networks.
These are fundamental to improve and transform people’s lives, especially in the rural areas, for the better for decades to come, Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said.
Electricity for example, he said, emphasised that the Sarawak government is willing to spend to electrify longhouses with solar power through Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares) because it will create a big difference in the lives of the remote communities.
“In a visit to a longhouse in Baram, the longhouse women were elated when solar power was installed, because it was for the first time they could make use of their refrigerators, while the children were so happy that they could read and write at night.
“Energy and technology can transform the lives of people in the longhouses. Mind you it costs a lot. Even though it is expensive, the Sarawak government is willing to spend and install the solar energy in the longhouses,” he said.
Abang Johari highlighted this at the opening ceremony of National Conference on Dayak Women: Dayak Women Making a Difference held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) today.
The Sarawak government, he continued, aims to have a statewide coverage of electricity supply by 2025 or 2026 to bring major changes to people’s lives including women and children in longhouses and small villages.
“If we want to transform people, basic needs must be there even though it is very costly. When you entrust me as your chief executive, (I must find ways) to get the money to electrify rural and remote areas.
“If we were to wait for Putrajaya, (the funds) may come sometimes and sometimes not. (As a result) there are light poles without cable. So the government immediately approved RM4 billion to implement power across Sarawak.
“That’s why we emphasised and are spending money on infrastructure. We cannot rely on other people but ourselves,” he added.
With commitment to steer Sarawak to become an advanced State by 2030 through its Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS), Abang Johari vowed to explore further in getting the much needed funds within the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) to develop the State.
He added that many foreign officials who have visited Sarawak acknowledged that the State is heading towards the right direction – the digital and green economy.
“So for the betterment of Dayak women and Sarawak as a whole, let us work together and move faster ahead from where we are now,” he urged.
Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Minister of Agriculture Modernisation and Regional Development Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Tan Sri Empiang Jabu Research Chair Prof Datuk Jayum Jawan and Sarakup Indu Dayak Sarawak chairperson Dato Ir Alice Jawan Empaling were present. — DayakDaily