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KUCHING, Jan 21: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led government plans to develop Sarawak the same way China did to become a world economic powerhouse, second only to the United States of America (USA).
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said when China started developing more than two decades ago, it started off with intensive rural infrastructure development.
How it became what it is today is because those developments were rural and people-centric, he explained.
“China became an economic giant after the USA because of its economic policy that is rural-centric, initially. I was a Minister of Industry in 1988, and I first visited Shenzhen together with (former federal minister) Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz. Shenzhen, at that time, was just a fishing village. Then they turned into an industrial area because it is adjacent to Hong Kong, so they started the rural (development) first.
“What happened is they developed Shenzhen, and from there grew to Guangdong and other parts of rural central China, then moved north.
“That is how China developed. But the key is the infrastructure development that was built in those areas that turned China into a very competitive place with big country (size) and population.
“We can get their engineering part of the development as our model,” he said during the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between Sarawak Energy and Bakun Resettlement Scheme Educational Fund here this afternoon.
If Sarawak could build its infrastructure in the rural areas first, he was confident the state could become a “little China” in this region.
“That is our ambition — little China. If we develop our infrastructure, our roads and everything in the rural and inject public money to stimulate the economy, we will have that particular growth, and after that, the other sectors will come in.
“This is exactly what we are doing under GPS,” Abang Johari shared.
With all that development, a lot of money is needed, he said. Because of that, he explained that Sarawak is exercising its rights based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and the federal constitution by imposing a 5 per cent sales tax on petroleum-based products meant for exports.
Abang Johari said he was confident the state would be able to earn from not just the sales tax but also other investments. Last year, he announced a budget allocation of over RM11 billion for 2019.
“With that money and other investments, I think we are on the right track. We pump into our infrastructure development in the rural areas so that they will be connected with the urban areas and will be conducive to investments,” he said. — DayakDaily