KUCHING, Feb 3: The Sarawak government will not lose sight of its struggle to reclaim the state’s rights as it must respect the wishes of all Sarawakians, said Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
“This is the wish of all Sarawakians, which must be respected, as discontentment among the people of Sarawak is not healthy for the well-being of the nation,” he said in his Chinese New Year message today.
The chief minister urged Sarawakians to be united in this struggle, regardless of their political stance.
“The spirit of Sarawak First must not be mellowed down just because of our political affiliation with others who are treating Sarawak like a stepson. It is not an easy road ahead for us, and that is why Sarawakians must speak and act with one voice.”
Abang Johari observed that of late, the spirit of brotherhood and social cohesion had been somewhat challenged in the face of the onslaught of new and vicious politicking culture from outside the state.
“Knowingly or unknowingly, we began to cast doubt and aspersion upon each other, which if left unchecked, would sow the seed of distrust among us. I pray the day would never come that a serious division among us would justify others to come and take control of us.”
Abang Johari stressed that he wanted Sarawak to be a place where people could understand and respect each other and be able to live in a society where unity is of utmost importance to everyone.
He reminded the people that they must respect one another’s religion, customs and opinions, which have been the basis of the state’s racial unity and religious harmony.
On the state’s economy, he said it would continue to grow at an encouraging rate in the next few years because the state government’s policy is geared towards growth and expansion.
He reiterated that despite challenges facing the national and global economies, the state’s economy was estimated to grow by 5 per cent this year as compared to 4.6 per cent in 2018.
Sarawak’s public expenditure for infrastructure is at a record high this year, and his administration intends to keep the momentum going.
“We are not cutting down on projects but rather we are doing the reverse as we have the means to finance them by imposing the 5 per cent tax on oil and gas. The expanding economy means there will be more work for our contractors and consultants, more business for our traders right down to small retailers in our towns all over the state.
“We are spending within our means based on the revenue we expect to collect, and we are not even using the state’s reserves. Be rest assured that our economy is a well-managed economy, and we have been prudent in our spending. For this reason, we have a substantial amount of reserves and receiving a ‘clean bill of health’ from the Auditor-General for many years already.”
In addition, he pointed out that foreign investors, notably those from China and South Korea, keep coming in to support the state’s industrialisation programme, particularly at the Samalaju Industrial Park and Sama Jaya High-Tech Park.
He reckoned this is because they know that Sarawak is politically stable, its policies consistent and well-defined and its renewable energy capability enormous.
To date, the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) has recorded about RM80 billion worth of public and private investments. Through the SCORE Development Plan, the state is forecast to generate about RM334 billion in terms of investments.
When the Score Development Plan is fully realised by 2030, it is expected to create 1.6 million new jobs, especially for young Sarawakians.
The success of the Sama Jaya High-Tech Park is also encouraging, with the recent launching of the first phase of an elecfoil production facility in Sama Jaya costing RM400 million.
Abang Johari said total investment by companies in Sama Jaya had exceeded RM12 billion, and more foreign companies had indicated their readiness to invest there.
The state’s economic transformation programme on agriculture would create even more opportunities for Sarawak to develop new products and find new markets for its products.
“The potentials of our agriculture are enormous, and we must capitalise on this in order to become a net exporter of food. Quality durians, pineapples and rambutans are some of our products that can fetch good market overseas.” — DayakDaily