“Don’t let technology ruin our most important asset”: Sarawak urged to protect, preserve biodiversity, nature even as it builds digital economy

From left: Van Leeuwen, Subash, Fung and Neoh sharing their views during an interactive panel session on 'Future of Business - Game Changing Innovation and New Market Trends'.

By Karen Bong and Ling Hui

KUCHING, Oct 13: Speakers at the 1st Borneo Corporate Innovation Summit (BCIS) expressed their hope for Sarawak to continue preserving and protecting its diverse biodiversity and beautiful nature without letting technology destroy and ruin the State’s most important asset — the environment. 

Speaking at the event which has brought together visionary leaders, startups and innovators to the capital city of Sarawak, Agile in Tandem chief executive officer (CEO) Subash Palaniappan advised Sarawak to not aspire to become another Kuala Lumpur or metropolitan city. 


“Protect the biodiversity and don’t let technology ruin it. I think it is beautiful when you come to places like Sarawak and Sabah. That’s why you attract tourists because many people would want to escape here. 

“I am bringing my family here in two weeks’ time. My only hope is for this place stay like this in terms of its environment and don’t get destroyed for the sake of technology,” he said when sharing his thoughts on expectations for technologies that Sarawak will embrace and introduce to bring a huge impact on development and change the lives of people, be it for work or study. 

His comments came during the interactive panel session on ‘Future of Business — Game Changing Innovation and New Market Trends’ at the event in Tegas Digital Village here today. 

Echoing Subash, Ficus Group Capital managing director Rina Neoh commended the impressive work by Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) in documenting more than 6,000 flora and fauna that are indigenous to Malaysia and Sarawak in particular. 

“That’s something the foreign and western world cannot take away from us. I got to really know or learn about Sarawak’s biodiversity when I was working with SBC. I am very excited personally. This is actually outside of my scope of investment in technology and digital disruption. 

“To be able to harvest and co-exist with nature is the most beautiful thing. I really love the work that SBC people are doing and they are working closely with the tribes in endorsing traditional medicinal plants by including science with it,” she said. 

Neoh said that the products discovered and researched, which are unique to Sarawak, have the potential to be commercialised such as the litsea oil under the LitSara brand.
She continues to stress on the importance of storytelling in content marketing to create a deeper connection between the products and consumers. 

“I would love to see the locals, community builders and the government actually put an effort into this to bring out the strengths of a unique product,” she added. 

Also speaking during the session, Damansara Holdings Bhd head of digital Alan Fung said he hoped to see Sarawak explore the plastic recycling supply chain “because that will solve a lot of problems in the society”. 

Sunway Bhd chief innovation officer and Sunway iLabs director Matt Van Leeuwen was excited for Sarawak moving forward in the agritech sector and achieving the aim of becoming a net food exporter by 2030. 

“But of course that should not be driven by only technology. I hope the food won’t change as I will definitely be back to enjoy the good food,” he added. 

The one-day summit was officiated at by Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Urban Planning Datuk Len Talif Salleh. — DayakDaily