Time for Federal govt to pay attention to two Borneo States as Indonesia moves capital to Kalimantan

Robert Lau

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KUCHING, Jan 1: Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew opines it is time for the Federal government to pay attention to the two Borneo States to take advantage of the transformational shift of Indonesia’s economy and administration into Kalimantan.

Lau, in a statement today said, Malaysia is facing stiff competition from the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) neighbours in attracting foreign investment with Indonesia fast catching up.

According to Lau, the Sarawak government, on the other hand, has been very proactive in building infrastructure and inviting foreign investors over the last two decades.

“The Federal government will have to do its part for the Borneo States and give meaning to equal partners to the Federation of Malaya.

“This has to be in the form of funding infrastructure projects and devolving decision making powers to the Borneo States, like approving both foreign and domestic investments to them. So we must act now,” he said.

Lau noted the just concluded election had produced a strong and stable government under the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He explained that Sarawak is now in an excellent position to further develop its economy in a sustainable way that has to be anchored on sustainable and green industries. It cannot just rely on extracting natural resources for export without added value.

“Sarawak has a head start in hydropower and is geographically closer to the trading routes as well as big economies as compared to Northern Kalimantan.

“With a five-hour flight to India on the West, and China to the North with more than 2.5 billion people, the world’s shipping lanes pass by our Exclusive Economic Zone.

“We have to leverage on these advantages. For example, Sarawak will soon have Baleh Dam near Indonesia’s Kalimantan border, which is 400km from the border to the new capital of Indonesia.

“A plan has to be drawn up to have these two places linked by road and even train. I have highlighted this during the debate on the 12th Malaysia Plan at the Senate in October,” he added.

Lau also pointed out that the next move will be to have a similar industrial park in the Central Zone of Sarawak, like in Northern Kalimantan, Indonesia.

He believed a Lower Rajang Development Authority would be ideal, complementing the State-funded Upper Rajang Development Authority.

“The industrial park should focus on industries related to transportation and logistics. There is no need to compete with our neighbour.

“There is a huge opportunity in green mega data centres too as Sarawak has the abundance of the three key ingredients, namely, green (hydro) energy, land, and clean water. The Authority will need funding and competent people to run it,” he said. — DayakDaily