KUCHING, Dec 24: Let’s not squander the opportunities and resources to build a bright future for Sarawak but continue to strengthen commitment to contribute to the harmony and progress of the state.
This is the message of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to all Sarawakians in this first post-Covid-19 Christmas.
As Sarawak addressed the burdens of Covid-19, Abang Johari expressed strong confidence that Sarawak is still be on track to achieve a developed and high-income status by 2030.
“This is not a hollow confidence because our economic fundamentals are strong, our policies are structured and realigned after Covid-19, while our political stability is the envy of others,” he emphasised in his Christmas greetings to Sarawak today.
He pointed out that the recent signing of the Commercial Settlement Agreement (CSA) with Petronas gave Sarawak added confidence that the state can derive more revenue from its oil and gas resources.
“Apart from the mere five per cent royalty that Sarawak used to receive which is on average RM700 to RM800 million a year, the petroleum sales tax at five per cent, of which Sarawak has the power to impose and is recognised by the court, has given us a new stream of revenue of about RM3.2 billion every year.
“The CSA also paved the way for Sarawak to participate actively in the upstream and downstream activities of our oil and gas resources through Petros (Petroleum Sarawak Berhad),” he said, adding that Sarawak is the only state where onshore oil mining will be revived with two leases already granted to Petros.
Despite criticism from certain quarters, Abang Johari reiterated that the CSA gave a better deal for Sarawak and, no less important, reaffirmed Sarawak’s right over its oil and gas resources and the validity of the Oil Mining Ordinance (OMO) 1958.
Hence, he urged all Sarawakians to refrain from dwelling on racial and religious issues that would undermine the unity and harmony which Sarawak has maintained and safeguarded to this day.
“The GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government strives to be inclusive as no one should be left behind. We must work together to develop Sarawak into a digitalised economy, leveraging on our rich natural resources and human talent,” he urged.
With Covid-19 affecting nearly all sectors of society and many struggling to stay afloat in this difficult time, Abang Johari said the state government had tried its best to help through various assistance under Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) involving a total fund allocation of RM2.6 billion so far.
“This is the second biggest total value of assistance from any state government besides the assistance from the federal government. The state government is still paying some categories of the assistance until the end of the year to cushion the impact on the affected groups,” he added.
While Christmas like other festive celebrations before this will be celebrated in the ‘new norm’ this year, Abang Johari hopes that all who are affected will understand the need for Sarawak to be strict with Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP).
“This time around you may not be able to have full services in churches, organise Christmas parades, or visit friends and relatives on Christmas day, all because of the need to restrict our movement to contain the spread of Covid-19 infections.
“With travel restrictions imposed, I am aware that people staying outside Sarawak may not be able to return to their hometowns, kampongs, longhouses or villages for fear this will cause another spike in infections,” he noted.
But with the hard work of the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), the dedication of frontliners and co-operation of people, Abang Johari was relieved Sarawak has been able to contain the number of infections to single digit.
He also expressed appreciation for the efforts of all social and religious institutions, particularly churches, which have been very co-operative in observing the SOP.
“I sincerely hope that we will continue to abide by the SOP so that we stop the chain of infection.
“On behalf of my family I would like to wish all our Christians friends a happy and merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year 2021 to all Sarawakians,” he said, extending a warm Christmas wish to all Sarawakians. — DayakDaily