Developing Sarawak into economic powerhouse remains high on Abg Jo’s agenda

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

By Peter Sibon and Karen Bong

BINTULU, Jan 13: Today marks the second year anniversary since Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg took office as the sixth Sarawak chief minister.

Two years on, steering Sarawak towards achieving developed status remains his number one ambition.

“I think what’s important is unity for Sarawakians and to continue what has been carried out particularly the unfinished works of Tok Nan.

“We have to do what he wanted to do for Sarawak particularly the issue on eroded rights,” Abang Johari said, while making reference to his predecessor, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem – who passed away two years ago on Jan 11.

Speaking fondly of his childhood friend, whom he referred as Tok Nan, he took it upon himself to continue Adenan’s legacy especially in protecting and restoring Sarawak’s rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“For me personally, it is to chart our economic development. We must try to use our talents, with the resources that we have, to transform Sarawak into becoming an economic powerhouse in Malaysia.

“This must be done with the unity of the people,” he said after officiating at the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) Trienniel General Assembly (TGA) here yesterday.

In the last two years, Abang Johari has introduced/implemented 43 action plans and initiatives with some still in progress to propel Sarawak into a high-income digital economy state by 2030.

He has charted a comprehensive action plan that focused on rural transformation through enhancing infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supplies as well as telecommunication connectivity so as to improve the wellbeing and quality of life of the people.

Among the major initiatives implemented or introduced by Abang Johari that have impacted Sarawak are as follows:

– A record RM11.914 billion Budget 2019.

– Historical and highest projected income for Sarawak with the introducion of five per cent cent Sales Tax on petroleum products.

– Continuous and concrete steps to restore MA63.

– RM1,000 one-off incentive for every newborn Sarawakian baby starting 2019.

– 600 telecommunication towers with 5G capability to be built in the next two years.

– The establishment of Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) and Sarawak Digital Economic Corporation (SDEC) as the implementing agent of SMA, Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS) and Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros), Sarawak Development and Research Council (SDRC).

– Setting up of Hydrogen Unit in Sarawak Energy Bhd for hydrogen fuel cell research and development.

– Centex-Huaiwei collaboration to promote digital training and establish a digital lab.

– Sarawak Digital Economy Strategy 2018-2022.

– 2019 budget of RM30 million for Unit for Other Religion (Unifor).

– RM40 million allocation for NCR perimeter survey under new initiative starting 2019.

– Financing the allowances of community leaders

– Acquisition of Bakun Dam.

– The light rail transit (LRT) initiative to be implemented in the next 10 years to improve traffic flow in Kuching.

– Expansion of Regional Corridor of Development Authority (Recoda) with the setting up of Ulu Rejang Development Agency (Urda), Highland Development Agency (HDA) and Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA) to further expedite development in the rural areas.

– Special allocation for treated water initiatives under Sarawak Alternative Water Supply (Sawas), as well as Sarawak Alternative Rural Electrification Scheme (Sares).

– Special loan from Yayasan Sarawak for i-CATS students to pursue thier studies at diploma and degree levels.

– Setting up of agroparks to modernise agriculture.

– Financing three major bridge projects namely Batang Rambungan, Batang Igan and Batang Lupar.

On the political front, Abang Johari, who is also Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman, reiterated that in order for the current administration to continue governing the state, he leaves it to the people of Sarawak to decide the fate of the newly established political coalition comprising of PBB, SUPP, PRS and PDP.

“I leave it to the people (to decide) as we have our own programme and platform. The final decision is the people.”

Abang Johari also responded to recent statements by Pakatan Harapan leaders, especially Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Works Minister Baru Bian, who had expressed confidence that Pakatan can take over Sarawak in the next state election due 2021.

“Let them speculate,” he said. — DayakDaily