KUCHING, Sept 12: Sarawak must be bold in embracing technology in all sectors ranging from agriculture and construction to banking and manufacturing if it wants to shift successfully towards the Industrial Revolution 4.0, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
“We must emphasise on research and development, take calculated risks and not be conventional. Sarawak, despite its small population, has vast land mass and natural resources.
“When it comes to technology advancement, we should look to become the front runners and not follow other people all the time,” he said when opening Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) STEM Engineering Conference 2018 here today.
Abang Johari told those present that success in shifting the state’s economy towards Industry 4.0 would depend highly on creativity and innovation in overall processes.
“Sarawak vision is to go digital, and we are learning from Estonia, a small European nation that has gone fully digital. Transforming Sarawak to go fully digital will leapfrog its economy,” he opined.
Abang Johari cited the state’s pursuit of hydrogen technologies as among the programmes the government was embarking on to move forward in technological innovation.
The state is looking to take advantage of its vast water dam resources to embark on fuel cell research using hydro energy, which would be tested on its emission-free bus programme to ensure its public transportation system is run on clean energy.
Abang Johari announced on Monday (Sept 10) that three units of hydrogen fuel cell buses were expected to ply the roads of Kuching by March next year as a pilot project for its hydrogen technology research and innovation.
Under this initiative, Sarawak Energy has been given the task of constructing and operating the hydrogen refueling station in Bintawa here. The building of the facility is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2019 and will be the first dedicated hydrogen refueling station for transportation in South-East Asia.
But Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, has advised the state government to take a cautious approach in the introduction of hydrogen-fueled buses to improve public transportation.
He reasoned that hydrogen technology for vehicles had yet to fully mature and will be subjected to many adjustments and innovations in the future. In addition, such buses cost about RM1 million each, which is almost double the price of conventional buses. The state would also have to spend millions on facilities to convert water to hydrogen cells, he added. — DayakDaily