KUCHING, Dec 31: Another challenging year has slipped by and another one awaits, but Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas is confident Sarawak leaders together with Sarawakians will rise to the occasion magnificently and with heads held high.
“The year 2018 has indeed been most challenging for us. Soon after the 14th general election (GE14), when Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the federal government, we have been treading on very unfamiliar ground,” he shared at the dawn of a new year in a statement today.
“But under the wise leadership of our Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, we have raised the bar. I am very confident we will continue to do so in our own development efforts and prosperity level.”
A look back at 2018, Uggah recalled the remarkable achievements of the state government, from forming Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and announcing the biggest budget in the history of the state to the setting up of Sarawak Petroleum Berhad (Petros) and Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS).
“We now have GPS under Abang Johari to steer us to greater heights. The GPS is a Sarawak-based coalition led by Sarawakian leaders advocating Sarawak first policy. Our GPS government will determine our own progress, our own prosperity and our own destiny,” he reiterated.
“For 2019, we have an unprecedented RM11 billion budget. Thus, it will be a most hectic year, where we will implement all those development programmes to uplift the people’s livelihood and transform Sarawak.”
Uggah also shared pride in declaring that Sarawak is leading the nation in honouring religious freedom, especially through Unit for Other Religion (Unifor) that aims to help other religions, besides Islam, to grow.
Unifor, he added, provided funds for the construction or upgrading of the various houses of worship, obtained land for their constructions and many others.
“For 2019, Unifor has been allocated RM30 million. In 2018, it was given RM20 million to carry our over 231 projects.”
As for the ongoing Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) negotiation talk, he emphasised that the state government had not run out of steam but had taken a step forward to add local members from the opposition parties to sit in their negotiation committee (Sarawak Consultative Committee for MA63).
“This is an indication of our unity, where and when Sarawak interest is at stake and of our love for the state.”
For the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, Uggah pledged to double and redouble efforts starting tomorrow in transforming Sarawak’s agriculture sector, which is now popularly regarded as the new source of wealth for the state.
“For 2019, we have been allocated a budget of RM355 million. We have identified modern programmes and projects to boost production or raise our self-sufficiency level.
“In a nutshell, my ministry is out to promote precision farming that is technology driven. We need to be more efficient and productive as we want to be a net exporter of food by 2030.”
On Native Customary Rights (NCR) land issues, he reiterated that the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) had passed the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2018 to give the force of law to ‘Pulau Galau’ and ‘Pemakai Menoa’ or equivalent.
“For that, the state government has allocated a sum of RM40 million next year to continue with surveying works on NCR land, both under Section 6 and Section 18.”
On the rabies scourge, Uggah hoped to see more dogs vaccinated as they target to get at least 70 per cent of the estimated 200,000 dogs in the state vaccinated next year.
“We have so far vaccinated about half of the number. I am appealing to more dog owners to get their pets vaccinated as soon as possible. Please do not take things for granted for it might be too late.”
Wrapping up the year, he also appealed to fellow Sarawakians to continue giving their strong support to the GPS government.
“Let us all continue to nurture our racial harmony so as to strengthen our unity in Sarawak. Have a blessed and prosperous New Year,” he extended his new year wishes to all Sarawakians. — DayakDaily