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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Dec 3: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg stated that he is not a man who is merely rhetoric.
He said he had proved this after approving the state’s biggest budget in its history for 2019, to ensure that its economy is strengthened and for the state to be able to earn more revenue in years to come.
“I do not want to dwell on too much rhetoric and all I want to do as Chief Minister and Minister of Finance is to ensure that our economy is strengthened and Sarawak can have bigger revenue in the years to come to support our administration and development programmes.
“As you have already known, our state budget for next year is the biggest so far and our state revenue will be the biggest in all our 55 years as a government,” he told thousands of civil servants during the State Civil Service Excellence Night 2018 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) on Sunday (Dec 2).
He said he had proved his critics wrong when he announced the state’s 2019 budget after introducing the 5 per cent sales tax on petroleum and gas-based products for export starting January 1 next year.
Abang Johari also took a swipe at the federal government, saying that if Sarawak were to continue with the rate of development it had been experiencing over the past 55 years, it would always be left behind by the rest of the country.
He said Sarawak is a big state and some administrators from across the South China Sea do not understand nor realise how much more attention Sarawak should be given to enable it to catch up with the more developed parts of the country.
“But we can’t afford to blame others or ourselves for all our shortcomings and we can’t hope that others will be nice to us and genuinely come to our aid. If we do so hope we are making a big mistake and we do not want to make such a mistake anymore.
“This is not politics but that’s the way we should approach our development now in order to accelerate progress particularly infrastructural facilities in our rural areas.
“Neither should we beg all the time for others to give us money to finance our development although it is their obligation to give us our share of allocation,” he said.
Abang Johari continued: “I have always believed as a Muslim that when I come to face my Creator, the Angel will ask me, ‘what have you done to the God-fearing people of Sarawak to give them a good life?’, and I believe God will ask the same question to those who have not been fair to Sarawak.”
Meanwhile, Abang Johari also reminded the civil servants in the state to embrace digital technology to be able to compete on par with other states or even other regions in the world.
“What I am trying to tell you is that digital economy is the name of the game now.
“We are not just trying to introduce electronic government or e-services here and there but a whole range of Internet of Things (IoT), from government services to agriculture and to trade and commerce to transform the economy,” he said. — DayakDaily