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KUCHING, June 24: Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said the Dayak community must realise that only through unity and working closely together would they be able to close the economic and income disparity gap.
He noted that despite the reduction in poverty and increased level of education among Dayaks over the past 55 years, the community was still lagging behind the others in various areas.
“We, the Dayak communities, need to be united and work together to close the gap on economic and income disparity. This is where our Dayak community with a single voice shall be united to work together and putting community above self,” he said at the state-level Gawai 2018 dinner at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) in Jalan Demak here on Saturday.
Dr Rundi, who is also chairman of this year’s state-level Gawai Dayak celebration, said it had always been the intention of the Sarawak government to narrow the gap between the urban and rural populace so that all Sarawakians could enjoy mainstream development.
He said the Dayak community, like the other races, also yearned for more development, particularly basic infrastructure and basic amenities, in the rural areas.
On water and electricity amenities, he said through various integrated strategies being undertaken, the state hoped to achieve 100 per cent coverage of both these amenities by 2025.
Presently, the overall electricity coverage in the state was at 95 per cent, with rural coverage at 90 per cent. For treated water supply, the state has achieved about 81 per cent, with rural water supply coverage at 61 per cent.
“Hopefully, the government master plan, under the Rural Transformation Programme, will accelerate the development of the rural sector systematically.
“Another initiative being set-up is the Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA) and Highland Development Agency (HDA) to bring a faster pace of development in terms of increasing connectivity and infrastructure through commercial agriculture production within the areas of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE),” said Dr Rundi.
On the ‘Pemakai Menoa’ (territorial domain) and ‘Pulau Galau’ (communal reserve forest) (PMPG) issue, he said several engagements had been organised with the communities and lawmakers on the matter and the amendments would be tabled in the coming State Legislative Assembly Sitting next month.
Dr Rundi hoped the relevant Dayak ministers and community leaders would give special attention to the government’s solution to PMPG and Native Customary Rights (NCR) issues to boost the people’s confidence in the administration.
“We hope the solutions would be acceptable to the people,” he said.
Dr Rundi also urged the Dayak communities to cooperate with the other communities as disharmony would not be good for anyone.
“As Dayaks, we also need to transform … to be able to work and cooperate with fellow Sarawakians not only among the Dayaks, be prepared to compromise if need be, and be united in our endeavour for a better future for Dayaks.
“Our diversity should be our strength, not our weakness. Only through unity can we achieve our aspirations,” he said.
Also present at the dinner were Sarawak Governor Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and his wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Raghad Kurdi Taib, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, and Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and Tan Sri James Masing. — DayakDaily