By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Dec 14: The state government has been injecting large sum of capital to stimulate Sarawak’s economy in face of federal government’s failure to bring the nation out of economic downturn and slow growth.
Highlighting this view, Federation of Chinese Associations Sarawak president Dato Richard Wee said Malaysia’s economy has been in the doldrums, not only plagued by slow growth but worsened by scandals, nepotism and corruption, resulting in the business community and the society yearning for change.
It was under such circumstances that the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government was voted in.
“However, while the new government is making adjustments in their new role and busy politicking among themselves, they are also facing external factors like trade war, fluctuation of commodity prices, etc. All that have resulted in the slow growth which has impacted all the economies within the South East Asia region.
“As for internal factor, the new government is still not able to eradicate the continuing cronyism, nepotism within their system and they have not been able to provide clarity, direction in their economic strategies, and together with their flip-flop policies, coupled with racial polarisation and political instability, these have continued to impact us as well,” he elaborated.
Wee shared these perspectives when giving a talk on the ‘Business Landscape in Sarawak’ at ‘An Evening with Fellow Sarawakians: Talking about What Really Matters’ event on Friday night (Dec 13).
As a result of trade war, he pointed out that many Chinese manufacturers closed down their factories in China where they later relocated their facilities to other counties like Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia to take advantage of the countries’ preferential status accorded by the USA.
“Malaysia, however, did not take the opportunity. Malaysia could have capitalised on such situation but due to the lack of initiative, experience and slow response from our federal government, we may have missed this great opportunity. All these issues have directly or indirectly affected our effort to develop Sarawak into a developed region in Malaysia,” he added.
As such, Wee highlighted that the Sarawak government has been trying to find new economic model and encouraging the business community to integrate new technologies in traditional sectors such as agriculture and fishery to vitalise Sarawak’s economy.
In its efforts to move forward, Sarawak noted that the state was unable to be totally independent from the federal economic policies and national Bank Negara regulations, as the monetary and fiscal policy of the country were all determined by the federal government.
“Many of these policies affect the entire businesses landscape in Malaysia and Sarawak is not spared. All these are beyond our control and therefore, whenever Malaysia is faced with financial or economic crisis, the entire business environment in Sarawak will be inevitably affected by it.
“It is in view of that, our Sarawak government adopted a different approach and initiatives to manage our own economy. In recent years, we have seen our government injecting large sum of capital into investment in the oil and gas sector, and the infrastructural projects such as roads, bridges, ports and many others,” he said.
Sarawakians, he continued, realised that they can only depend on Sarawak government’s new economic initiatives in its expansionary fiscal policies, seeking new and additional revenue streams and embracing of new technology to stimulate economy.
“It is with the implementation of the above strategies that Sarawak will be able to achieve financial independence which will in turn fast track the overall development of Sarawak without much dependence on federal government’s uncertain grant and allocations. I strongly believe this will be the new business landscape in Sarawak,” he added.
Wee emphasised that what matters to Sarawak were the successful negotiation of Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) with the federal government to have rights and entitlement be returned to Sarawak as enshrined in MA63.
“So that we are able to determine our own future and our own destiny; that our own Sarawakian identity, our harmonious society and our diverse culture and heritage will be propagated and that our Sarawak leaders will be able to turn our hope into reality in the quest of our autonomy through the right and proper channels,” he concluded.— DayakDaily