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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Dec 8: Sarawak with its rich resources and talented people can ‘swim’ on its own towards becoming a developed state, said Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He, thus, called on all Sarawakians to be united politically, socially and economically to protect and move the state forward.
“We must be rational and not emotional when it comes to Sarawak. With the strength that we have, we don’t want to be a colony that only receive directives. We can swim on our own.
“I can assure you that with the talents Sarawak have, we can transform Sarawak into a developed state. What’s most important is Sarawakians must be united to protect Sarawak, must work together to move forward with the talent and resources, and be united politically so that everyone across every sector of our society will benefit,” he added.
Abang Johari said this when addressing the United People’s Party (UPP) Extraordinary Delegates Conference (EDC) here today. Present were UPP president Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, deputy president Datuk Dr Jerip Susil and secretary-general George Lo.
Abang Johari emphasized that strong economic growth, policy consistency and political stability were pre-conditions to ensure the state continued to progress immensely and all lives can thrive, unlike the flip-flops in other places “over black shoes, white shoes, proposal for hotels to open up swimming pool for students swimming lessons and inclusion of 1MDB in the history textbook”.
“Sarawak people do not need to go to hotels for swimming lessons. We go to the Baram River that even the ‘buaya pun takut’ (crocodiles are also afraid). People of Sarawak can already swim. We are independent, we can swim on our own,” he said as cheers and laughter erupted in the hall.
“It is natural for us. We can swim in rivers and even jump down from coconut trees, scaring the crocodiles away. Why go to hotels when it is meant for tourists? The kids will probably scare the tourists away. All these funny things.”
Abang Johari shared that Sarawak had learned so much over the 55 years since independence.
“While we thought there will be a new leader from Harapan leading us today, but then it is the same people (from the past). There is no difference. It is the same person. What changed?
“There were good and bad things through the process (over the past 55 years). The problem in the past was that only the majority stand. If national policy said ‘A’, we have to say `yes’ because it was based on consensus. Mauk lawan taukeh pun susah (to go against the boss was difficult). That’s 55 years,” he said.
So after BN lost, he said Sarawak Cabinet leaders decided it was better to leave BN, have an independent stand and lead Sarawak on its own, as local leaders were more than able and capable to do so.
Abang Johari reassured commitment to fulfilling the promises in its manifesto in the last state election, including safeguarding the state’s rights under the Constitution and based on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
He also reiterated all-out effort to push for economic growth and enhance revenue through enforcing the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 (OMO 1958), imposing sales tax on petroleum-based products, transforming agriculture, expanding power generation in Bakun Dam and others.
“We want to install one more turbine in Bakun to generate additional 300MW power, in which the industry and business communities will benefit.
“We must push for strong economic growth with thriving economic activities that will trickle down to benefit the people in both urban and rural areas in Sarawak,” he said.
With the resources and a clear direction, Abang Johari emphasised that Sarawak could be developed and the revenue could be poured back to the people through the provision of roads, electricity and water supplies, bridges and other basic infrastructure, including digital ones. — DayakDaily