By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, Jan 4: Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) spokesperson Alex Leong has dismissed the state government’s vision of making Sarawak a developed state by 2030.
He believed that the state will fall into the middle income trap while the income disparity between the rich and the poor will widen.
Leong who is also the Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) candidate for the Batu Lintang seat expressed doubt that the state will achieve high income status as workers’ salaries have remained stagnant over the past 10 years.
“The monthly salary gap of Sarawakians as compared to those in Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea and Australia is getting wider.
“By 2030, the relevant income gap is estimated to have widened to about 20 times.
“Even if Sarawak becomes one of the advanced states of Malaysia by then, it will pale in comparison with the monthly salary and quality of life of foreign people,” he said in a statement.
Leong noted that since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the Federation of Malaysia has fallen into the middle income trap, according to the World Bank East Asia and Pacific Regional Report.
He asserted that Malaysia’s monthly income gap has stagnated at a level of about US$10,000 per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which was far from the threshold of US$20,000 per capita in advanced countries.
He noted the four Asian economies, namely Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong, have all crossed the high-income threshold some 20 years ago and that the monthly salary of blue collar or white collar workers in those countries can reach approximately RM10,000 to RM20,000 and the per capita GDP is about US$20,000 to US$50,000.
Among them, Leong pointed out, Singapore and Hong Kong have even squeezed into the top 10 rankings of the world’s advanced countries, with per capita GDP as high as US$50,000, which is the same as Australia.
Nonetheless, he noted, at present, the monthly salary of people in the Federation of Malaysia has stagnated at about RM1,000.
“The salary of a PhD graduate who returns to work in Sarawak may not be as good as that of a cleaning ‘aunty’ in a high-income country.
“The Federation of Malaysia has fallen into a period of stagnation in economic growth.
“It is unable to compete with low-income countries in terms of monthly salary in order to produce cheap products for export in manufacturing to earn foreign exchange nor it is able to compete with rich countries in the development of cutting-edge technology,” he added.
Leong claimed that current lawmakers in both Malaysia and Sarawak have not done their homework on the direction of the overall economic development, nor have they formulated good policies to address the criteria to break through the middle income trap in a targeted manner.
Likewise, Leong believed that within a federal system, the Sarawak government will be gradually assimilated and dragged down by Malaysia’s race and extreme religionism.
“As long as you stay in the Federation of Malaysia for one day and you are willing to be a ‘state’, any talk about the development of Sarawak is just a literary talk,” he opined. — DayakDaily