S’wak interested in Estonian multimedia, communication infrastructure devt

Abang Johari (fourth left) presenting a memento to Reinart (third left) at the end of the courtesy visit. From right: Len, Dr Chan, Mohamad Morshidi and Awang Tengah.

TALLINN, Estonia: Sarawak may look to model Estonia in terms of statewide multimedia and communication infrastructure development as part of its overall plan to digitise the state’s economy, in particular Sarawak’s own e-payment platform Sarawakpay.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said on Wednesday that Estonia would be a good model for Sarawak in its vision to develop Sarawak into a digitised state.

Abang Johari who was on his first day of his study visit in Estonia said the Baltic country’s model offered a workable solution for Sarawak in order to be able to provide fast Internet speed and penetration crucial for the development of a digital economy.

He made these comments during lunch at a local restaurant after visiting the Estonian E-Government Academy (eGA) here where he and members of his delegation were briefed on various aspect of the Estonian experience of e-government initiatives.

Of particular interest to the chief minister was the services made available by three main service providers that have been supported by at least 23 smaller localised providers throughout Estonia which he said had triggered the country’s drastic rise as a digital economic power in the European Union.

“Another aspect worth considering was provision of underground fibre optic network ducts along public roads in Estonia that made 4G Internet services easily available in all parts of the country where an increasing number of businesses of all sizes are migrating to the digital transaction platform,” said Abang Johari in a statement.

Later, the Chief Minister, accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, State Secretary Tan Sri Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani, Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh and the Malaysian Ambassador to Finland, Puan Sri Blanche Olbery paid a courtesy visit on Estonia’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Vaino Reinart at his office.

In his return address to Reinart, Abang Johari said his visit earlier to eGA had aroused the state government’s interest to collaborate with Estonia in many areas vital for the transformation of Sarawak into a digital economy.

He said he was particularly impressed with Estonia’s e-payment system that had permeated most aspects of the country’s commercial, business and public service transactions.

“We hope we can collaborate with Estonia in developing a similar to-be-launched e-payment platform in Sarawak called Sarawakpay,” the chief minister said.

He also expressed the interest of the state government to co-operate with Estonia in research and development, leveraging on its vast wealth in biodiversity.

Also accompanying the Chief Minister during the visit were Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (SAINS) chairman Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan and Col. Dato Harbans Singh, the Honorary Consul of Estonia in Malaysia.

Later in the eveningm the Chief Minister hosted a dinner in honour of the chairman of the Estonia-South Asia Parliamentary Group Coordinator, Valdo Randpere at a local restaurant here.