It is not only a mandate Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is seeking in this 15th General Election (GE15), but a very powerful mandate to allow it to amplify Sarawak’s collective voice in Parliament and at the Federal level. This is to defend her rights, interests and sovereignty, in influencing policy-making at national level as well as to honour and deliver their promises for a developed, prosperous, sustainable and glorious Sarawak by 2030.
Having broke off with Barisan Nasional (BN) following the grand old coalition’s defeat in GE14 in 2018 to become an independent political entity not bound to any political alliance and coalition in Peninsula Malaysia, the emergence of GPS has created a unique Sarawak, a territory that has its own direction and ways of doing things, instead of being one of the states of Malaysia.
The last four years, which could be considered GPS’ foundational years, have seen the coalition of four Sarawak-based components – Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) – changed the game by taking bold but careful and calculated steps to leapfrog Sarawak’s development and economy to the next level.
Sarawak leaders have always held Sarawak and her people close to its chest every step of the way, but GPS under the visionary captain Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and its capable team with diverse backgrounds have given wings to the “Sarawak First” agenda which has driven Sarawak to a greater height.
Commitment and integrity – What Abang Jo asked of elected reps
GPS chairman Abang Johari who is a visionary demands commitment, integrity and performance from the 76 assemblymen Sarawakians elected in 2021.
A strict discipline has been placed among them and a clear map of Sarawak’s development has been charted for them. They have also been informed with clarity and firmness on the development policies and direction.
Political squabbles and power strife in all component parties are to be avoided at all costs through negotiations, smooth succession and transition of power. Long serving elected representatives are also been replaced with new young ones.
This is the determination of GPS and this can be seen from its list of candidates and the instruction for assemblymen and MPs to work together to bring about changes and development in every constituency.
Money sense: Tremendous increase in revenue
Having imposed State Sales Tax (SST) on petroleum products since January 2019, GPS has raked in a total revenue of RM8.52 billion as of the second quarter of 2022.
Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros), Sarawak-owned oil and gas company established in 2017, is today a billion-ringgit company with a revenue of RM1.5 billion this year, an increase of RM300 million from RM1.2 billion in 2021.
Meanwhile, the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS) Berhad’s assets have grown to RM9.47 billion, with retained earnings at RM130.48 million as of October 2022.
Over the years of hard negotiations with Putrajaya, another breakthrough achieved was the restoration of Sarawak’s equal-partner status in the Federation of Malaysia with the successful amendment of the Federal Constitution that gave recognition to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report.
This was followed by the successful demand for a Sarawak representative to be on board the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) of Malaysia and the endorsement of 35 per cent parliamentary seats for Sarawak and Sabah.
Rakyat first: Unprecedented domestic spending
When Covid-19 pandemic hit and disrupted the lives of people, the GPS government implemented nine Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance Packages (BKSS) worth more than RM6.7 billion, apart from rolling out RM300 million on Covid-19 response.
And when the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government cancelled some of the development projects in Sarawak, GPS government took over including the construction of 12 bridges costing RM4 billion.
They are Batang Lassa (RM598 million), Batang Rambungan (RM98.5 million), Bintulu-Jepak (RM467 million), Batang Lupar (RM848 million), Batang Igan (RM286 million), Batang Rajang (RM170 million), Batang Paloh (RM298 million), Batang Saribas (RM378 million), Kuala Saribas (RM385 million), Batang Lupar 2 (RM224 million), Batang Krian (RM75 million)and Sungai Limbang (RM188 million).
Moreover, a total of 120 comprehensive, high-impact strategic initiatives based on the political philosophy of prioritising the interests, welfare and future of the people of Sarawak have been launched and implemented successfully since 2017.
To further safeguard the future of Sarawak’s children, the GPS government will be introducing the Sarawak Sovereign Wealth Fund in the upcoming State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting slated from Nov 21 to 30.
Green Sarawak: Huge inflow of foreign investment
Due to its political stability, Sarawak has managed to secure significant foreign investments especially its green energy initiative as follows:
- Multi-billion ringgit green hydrogen and ammonia (H2biscus) project in Bintulu with Samsung Engineering, Lotte Chemical and Posco Holding.
- USD600 million from Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd for the expansion of its ferroalloys and ferrosilicon smelting facility in Bintulu’s Samalaju Industrial Park
- RM52.2 billion to commercialise offshore Sarawak sour gas reserves with Sarawak Shell Berhad and Thailand’s PPTEP
- RM1.7 billion to develop an epichlorohydrin (ECH) manufacturing plant project at Bintulu’s Samalaju Industrial park with OCI Group and Korea Kumho Petrochemical Group
- Proposed AUD300-400 million investment from Australia’s Element 25 Pte Ltd to produce high-purity manganese sulphate as raw materials used as electric vehicle (EV) fuel in lithium-ion batteries
- RM1 billion investment from United States to build first Sarawak Medical Innovation and Technology Hub in Tanjung Kidurong
- USD192 million plant to develop a surgical gloves manufacturing plant by an American investor
- Proposed USD5.2 billion investment from China for an integrated oil refinery project.
- Proposed USD7.13 billion investment from Singapore for a metal project
Stubbornly defending Sarawak’s rights
Defending and regaining Sarawak’s lost rights has always been on the top priority of GPS’ agenda. This can be seen from its successful and on-going discussions, the results of its hard work and determination as well as unwavering position it holds on negotiation tables.
Some of the ongoing fights are listed below:
- Claim Sarawak rights that have been eroded such as revenue on stamp duty over land.
- Demand the increase of parliamentary seats for Sarawak.
- Ensure more Sarawakians fill key positions in the Sarawak Federal Public Service.
- Increase permanent and pensionable posts in Sarawak State Public Service.
- Ensure Sarawak has administrative autonomy over health, education, environment and tourism matters.
- Reclaim State land given to the Federal government that was not developed within five years.
- Facilitate and expedite granting of citizenship to eligible Sarawak children.
Home protection: Enhancing security
While Sarawak is developing fast and furiously, she does not forget to look behind her back to ensure the safety of her people. Over the years, the GPS government has taken actions to provide more security and safety for her people, to ensure that Sarawak is not only a liveable place but a safe place to stay.
Some of GPS efforts to strengthen security are as follows:
- Set up more military camps in several strategic areas throughout Sarawak.
- Build new Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security (ICQS) posts at strategic entry points to control the Sarawak-Kalimantan border more efficiently.
- Provide large allocations and improve efficiency to deal with various disasters including landslides, fires, floods, droughts and storms.
- To establish Sarawak Infectious Disease Research Centre (SIDC) to ensure Sarawak’s preparedness to face epidemics and lead efforts to combat epidemics in Sarawak.
- Set up Sarawak’s coastal guards to ensure safety of fishermen and protect Sarawak’s sea resources as well as its waters from exploitation of foreign fishing vessels.
Determination to provide complete system of basic infrastructure
Holding strongly to the notion that basic infrastructure is the fundamental for any State building, it is GPS vision to ensure a complete and efficient system of basic infrastructure provision including electricity, water, physical as well as digital connectivity.
Its initiatives on basic infrastructure include the followings:
- Continue to develop roads to connect all parts of Sarawak, expand coverage of quality water supply, widen coverage of reliable electricity supply though grid system, and expand telecommunication infrastructure in order to improve people’s standard of living.
- Develop high quality ports, airports and their services to drive international trades and socioeconomic development of people.
- Expand mobile banking services and equip each district and sub-district with ATMs.
- Intensify rural economic development by increasing productivity through commercial agriculture, downstream enterprises and rural industries based on investment and modern technology.
- Increase allocations to assist in the construction and repair of village houses and longhouses.
Building Sarawak’s future: Education and training
GPS always believes in education and training being the basis to build a proficient, cultured and skilled new generation of capable and well-qualified human resources. It will thus continue with the following initiatives, despite the fact that education is within the purview and responsibility of the Federal government:
- Continue with development of five Sarawak international secondary schools to provide opportunities for B40 students, including those from rural areas to pursue higher-level studies.
- Ensure Sarawak children can continue their higher education at five universities owned by GPS government if they fail to get a place in public universities.
- Provide assistance such as Yayasan Sarawak scholarships and loans to Sarawak children who successfully pursued higher education.
- Encourage graduates to fill teacher job vacancies in Sarawak and appoint temporary teachers among Sarawakians and register them for education diploma courses.
Tackling healthcare and welfare
Like education, health and welfare are Federal responsibilities instead of Sarawak’s. Regardless, as health and welfare are important parts of Sarawakians’ daily living, the GPS government takes the initiatives to provide its own health and welfare, to compliment what the Federal can provide.
- Increase public and private hospitals and clinics, build more specialist medical centres as well as rehabilitate and upgrade dilapidated public hospitals and clinics.
- Improve health insurance coverage for Sarawak’s B40 group.
- Produce more health experts including doctors and specialists through training and financing.
- Provide welfare assistance and social safety net for needy such as monthly welfare assustance, special annual grant (GTK), Endowment Fund Sarawak (EFS), Kenyalang Gold Card (KGC), Death Compassionate Assistance (BIK), Special Aid for Kidney Patients (BPBP) and medical assistance.
- Create an integrated one-stop community centre for communities with special needs.
- Reduce the poverty rate in Sarawak through various urban and rural poverty alleviation initiatives and programmes for the short and long term.
- Provide low- and medium-cost housing for the B40 group in urban and rural areas to ensure Sarawak has no squatters.
- Assist young B40 and M40 individuals to own a house through financing under the Housing Deposit Assistance Scheme (HDAS) including Housing Deposit Assistance Scheme of up to RM10,000 for down payment.
Native Customary Rights (NCR) land
As NCR land is an issue close to the hearts of the natives, it is also on top of priority of GPS government. It is also an initiative that will continue until perimeter survey is completed where the natives may have documentary proofs of the land their ancestors handed down to them.
Some of measures taken by the GPS government include the recruitment of 467 officers for the Land and Survey Department (JTS) at all levels with the increase of management expenditures to RM30 million a year is an evidence that the GPS government is serious to complete perimeter survey for all natives.
The Post-Covid Development Plan (PCDS) 2030
With firm convictions and commitments, the GPS has a relevant vision for Sarawak’s future through Post-Covid Development Plan (PCDS) 2030 which aims to transform Sarawak into a high-income and developed State by doubling its economy from RM136 billion in 2019 to RM282 billion in 2030.
To reach the target, the GPS government has been trying to increase Sarawak’s revenue by intensifying existing industries as well as diversifying into other industries especially green energy, which has proven to be well-received by many countries which feel oblige to fulfill its commitment to reduce carbon emission.
Apart from developing green energy, GPS government is also in the midst of developing renewable energy capacity to support demand of electric vehicle users.
Developing Sarawak’s hydrogen economy by attracting domestic and foreign investors for hydrogen products and value chains; establish a network of hydrogen fuel filling stations for Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) System is another attempt made by the GPS government to diversify Sarawak’s income, while at the same time, moves along with the world in reducing carbon emission.
Sarawak under GPS is taking off and rising a bit higher each day. Instead of being perceived “going bankrupt” as accused by the opposition, Sarawak’s finance is going stronger and more independent.
GPS is able to reach such pace of development in a short period of time mainly because GPS leaders are wasting no time on political trivial but fully concentrating on matters relating to Sarawak’s needs such as pushing aggressively for infrastructural development plan and finding ways to build or increase Sarawak financial income or revenue.
Moving forward strong with mandate from people
GPS is now in a position to drive its visions and missions further, especially with the strong mandate from the people in the 12th Sarawak Election in claiming 76 out of 82 State assembly seats.
With so much efforts having put into transforming Sarawak for the better, GPS will not take for granted this unique opportunity to implement comprehensive development it had long espoused.
This efforts should not be squandered as Abang Johari had often emphasised that Sarawak should move forward because it cannot afford to move backward anymore.
With a big victory in GE15, GPS pledges to implement its “Ensuring the Stability, Prosperity, and Glory of Sarawak” manifesto that covered five main pillars, 25 thrusts and 215 commitments.
GPS has proven itself to be a government that walks the talks. Ever since GPS came into being, greater changes have happened to Sarawak, and more may be can be expected if the people continue to support it by granting it an ever stronger and obvious mandate. — DayakDaily