Sarawak to spend more on R&D to propel growth, says CM

Abang Johari (centre) speaking to reporters. With him are Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing (left) and Minister of Utilities Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.

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By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, May 27: The Sarawak government will emphasise more on research and development (R&D) next year to catapult the state to be the most developed place in South East Asia (SEA).

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said so far this year, he had allocated about RM50 million for R&D purposes, particularly in the agriculture sector, rural development, digital economy and hydrogen production for fuel.

Next year, he would give more money for R&D purposes.

“We must be one step ahead of the rest. This (investing a lot on R&D) is a bold move. People are criticising me, but now you see,” the chief minister told reporters after launching the first-ever Integrated Hydrogen Production Plant, Refueling Station and Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles in South East Asia at Syarikat Sesco Berhad Western Regional Office here this morning.

“We have to be bold because the whole world economy will definitely change. That’s why I give emphasis also on rural development like building roads, bridges, water supply and power (to rural areas),” Abang Johari added.

Apart from that, he also highlighted the state government’s push for hydrogen production as the fuel of the future to boost the state’s economy.

“At the moment, we are at the research and development stage. We already have a country interested in setting up hydrogen production in Sarawak. I cannot reveal which country yet because the negotiation process is still ongoing.

“What they want to do is set up a hydrogen production plant here, produce hydrogen then buy it back for their import,” Abang Johari revealed.

He said he wanted Sarawak to be the first country in the world to produce hydrogen for fuel and power to replace nuclear because Sarawak has a lot of feedstock.

“And the world needs this. If we can export, we can impose the 5 per cent sales tax. This is when I mentioned about exploring sources of revenue in my budget, and I mean it.

“The cabinet has agreed for us to find new sources of revenue, and it must be innovative. The moment we got the revenue, then the whole economy will benefit, particularly the rural areas,” he said. — DayakDaily