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BETONG, Jan 6: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has cautioned Sarawakians to stay united as “we are on our own now”.
“We are now on our own in governing our state, and this is going to be full of challenges,” he said at the 11th anniversary celebration of Sarawak Federation of Chung Hua Associations here last night.
He told those present that to start the ball rolling, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had allocated an unprecedented state development budget of RM11 billion for this year.
The priority, Uggah explained, is to upgrade or build more infrastructural facilities and amenities to benefit the rural folk and to generate more business opportunities and jobs.
Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, said the agriculture sector had been allocated RM315 million this year to start transforming the state into a net food exporter by 2030.
Hence, he urged the Chinese and all other communities in the state to stand solidly behind Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to help ensure the government’s ‘Sarawak First’ policy is successfully implemented.
“Abang Jo believes that Sarawak must be governed by local political parties and local leaders who best understand the state.
“We also want to protect the state’s rights as enshrined in the MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963) with regards to its oil and gas and territorial waters, immigration power and so forth. We want to take back those rights that have been taken away from us.
“These are very important struggles so that whatever we have in Sarawak will remain in Sarawak to benefit all Sarawakians and, in particular, for our future generations,” Uggah stressed.
Meanwhile, he praised the Chinese community here for their contributions to society, especially in promoting and enhancing unity among the people.
“You have been doing many community projects, and one of the most praiseworthy is the formation of the voluntary firefighting squad.
“The squad has helped to put out a number of fires here,” he said.
At the function, Uggah, who oversees the Unit for other Religions (Unifor) announced a government grant of RM500,000 towards the Betong New Chinese Temple Fund.
He also allocated a grant of RM30,000 to the Betong Chung Hua Association.
Meanwhile, he said Sarawak had remained very strong because its people are united and have no cause to distrust each other.
He said these values were now all the more important as the state endeavours to chart out and implement its development plans and agendas on its own. The ultimate aim is for it to become a progressive and rich state by 2030.
Uggah later witnessed the installation of new office bearers of the federation, where Lim Ah Teck of Batu Kawah Association is the new president, taking over from Charlie Wong of Betong.
Layar assemblyman Gerald Rentap, who also spoke at the function, announced a grant totalling RM60,000 to various Chinese organisations here. — DayakDaily