Premier hints emergence of new entity to assist businesses in Sarawak; details to be announced in 2 months

Abang Johari fields questions from reporters after attending Majlis Amanat Perdana for Sarawak Civil Service at BCCK, Kuching on Jan 12, 2024.

By Shikin Louis

KUCHING, Jan 12: Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has hinted the emergence of a ‘strategic entity’ to assist businesses and entrepreneurs in the State.

However, he remained tight-lipped on the big surprise, stating that he will only announce it within the next two months.

“I will assist businesses and entrepreneurs but I cannot announce it today.

“We must have strategic entities for us to move forward. Previously, we were (unsuccessful) in obtaining a digital banking licence but maybe that is a (blessing in disguise) for us.

“We already have Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS) and we will see what will happen to Sarawak within a month or two,” he said when delivering his keynote address during Majlis Amanat Perdana for Sarawak Civil Service held at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.

When pressured by reporters after the event, Abang Johari refused to reveal more details on the ‘strategic entity’, only stating that it is one of the “three major things” that Sarawak is going to take over this year.

“I have given you the hints; there are three things that we are going to take over in 2024.

“Firstly, we will finalise Bintulu Port takeover in June, the second one will be announced within this month, and the third is MASwings. Then we will have the whole system,” he said.

Despite no further revelation from the Premier, the ‘big surprise’ has been speculated to be involving acquiring a decisive stake of a bank.

On April 2022, Sarawak’s unsuccessful bid to get a digital banking licence from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) back in April 2022 had driven the State to look for another alternative.

Following this first failed attempt, Abang Johari on May 2, 2022 said that Sarawak has a second option for its digital banking ambitions to transform and move the State forward through an integrated digital economy, since the Sarawak government had successfully implemented e-wallet Sarawak Pay (S Pay Global).

Then on Jan 8, 2024, Affin Bank Berhad hinted that the Sarawak government will increase its stakes in the bank by acquiring an additional stake from the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT).

Should the attempt be successful, Sarawak may become the third largest shareholder in Affin Bank, after Bank of East Asia with 23.79 per cent and Boustead Holdings Bhd with 20.65 per cent. – DayakDaily