Deputy Premier: Sarawak in midst of economic shift from ‘PETRONAS Money’ to ‘Sarawak Money’

Dr Sim ( sixth right) and Wee (in blue shirt) together with other guests witnessing the lion dance performance at Kenyalang Park Commercial Centre on Feb 2, 2024.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 2: For the past 50 years, oil-rich Sarawak’s wealth was largely PETRONAS money but the next 50 years are poised to herald the era of ‘Sarawak money’, propelled by the exponential expansion of the State’s renewable and clean energy sector that is set to spur enduring GDP growth.

Reflecting on the past five decades, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian pointed out that any nation with oil became rich like Brunei and referred to it as petrol money.

“Sarawak has oil too but where is our money? It is PETRONAS money. If it is Sarawak’s money, then we would have become like Brunei.

“But let’s move forward because the next 50 years will no longer be dominated by petrol money. With the rise of electric vehicles (EVs) and green technology, the gradual phasing out of fossil fuel will usher in a new era where countries with green energy will become rich and prosper,” he told reporters after officiating at the annual Chinese New Year bazaar at Kenyalang Park Commercial Centre here tonight.

Dr Sim (second left) presenting mandarin oranges to a trader at the Kenyalang Park Chinese New Year Bazaar on Feb 2, 2024.

Dr Sim emphasised that Sarawak is blessed with abundance natural resources and hydropower and yet the Sarawak government is aggressively pursuing various renewable sources to embarking on hydrogen, solar, wind and other green alternatives.

This shift, he noted, ensures that products originating from Sarawak are recognised for being clean and green due to the utilisation of renewable energy sources.

In a conference last year, he underscored PETRONAS’ projection that the green energy sector would generate 200,000 new jobs in Malaysia over the next six years, with a significant portion based in Sarawak.

“If the last 50 years is PETRONAS money, the next 50 years will be ‘Sarawak money’.

“However, we need greater and collective efforts in nation-building, which cannot be done by one or two persons. We need a lot and diverse talents to contribute so that we can accelerate our vision of becoming an advanced and prosperous region by 2030,” he said.

Dr Sim (centre) together with Wee sampling some goodies before presenting mandarin oranges to a trader at the Kenyalang Park Chinese New Year bazaar on Feb 2, 2024.

With that, Dr Sim urged Sarawakians, especially those returning home from overseas this Chinese New Year, to take a closer look at Sarawak’s progress and think about how they can do their part to support Sarawak’s leapfrog.

Furthermore, he emphasised that the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) has passed all the laws to secure the energy sector for Sarawak.

With the ambitious goal set by Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg to double Sarawak’s GDP from RM181 billion to RM282 billion in six years, Dr Sim stressed the importance of harnessing all available talents to ensure Sarawak soars to greater heights.

“People often ask how can they benefit from burgeoning economy. Well, when the country is rich, the people will be rich. People will enjoy more benefits, including free tertiary education for Sarawakians by 2026.

“If the government and people have more money, we all can do more. That’s why we must strive to make Sarawak prosperous for all. If we come together we can make it happen, there is no question about it. Let’s do it together,” he said.

On the Kenyalang Park Chinese New Year bazaar, Dr Sim said it has established itself as a cherished tradition, attracting crowds amidst bustling congestion and deemed a must-visit for its diverse array of celebratory treats.

“The uniqueness of this bazaar lies in its inclusive nature, with traders hailing from various backgrounds. Despite being centered around Chinese New Year, the bazaar showcases the participation of Malay and Dayak entrepreneurs who enthusiastically contribute to the festive atmosphere.

“This diversity exemplifies the essence of Sarawak – a melting pot that reflects harmony, unity, and solidarity,” he added.

Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng, community leaders and MBKS councillors were among those present. — DayakDaily