Farsighted, forward-looking

Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.

—  Joel A. Barker, author and filmmaker

Let’s face it, as we brave through this pandemic, the future does not interest us as much. You see, why think about things that will happen five to 10 years from now, when we are unsure about tomorrow?

Understandably, the people are jaded with the pandemic, it’s been far too long and exhausting.

At the federal level, the present government does not enjoy the benefit of planning for the long haul — every day is a battle for them, be it in terms of fighting Covid-19, the never-ending political instability or the onslaught from the people of all walks of life.

In Sarawak, it seems like we are in another world as the state government, although facing its own challenges from the pandemic, managed to keep things at bay and focus on development in the future.

The development agenda, to them, is the only agenda and this was fully exemplified with the launch of the Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030.

Through a RM63 billion plan — RM30 billion from direct development expenditure and RM33 billion from alternative funding — it reiterated Sarawak’s resolve to be a developed state by 2030.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg raised a poignant point when unveiling PCDS on Sarawak Day: “While bracing for the current pandemic, we should not forget what we can do for the future of Sarawak.

“Nobody knows when the pandemic will end but we know where we want to be, come 2030,” he said.

In PCDS, by 2030, Sarawak aims to double the size of the economy from RM136 billion in 2019 to RM282 billion in 2030. To achieve this target, Abang Johari said Sarawak’s economy needs to grow on average 6.0 percent to 8.0 percent per annum until 2030.

Among others, its core objective was to place emphasis on environmental sustainability in the state’s recovery efforts and long-term economic growth.

Green, renewable energy is the way of the future. Sarawak definitely has the resources to make it work — be in terms of its emphasis on hydrogen, solar energy and energy efficient vehicles (EEV).

So, what does all this mean to the layperson? Firstly, it would mean more investments into the state. Secondly, it would allow the state’s industrial sector to be developed. Thirdly, it would mean that we get to keep our talents in the state.

The issue of brain drain has been a long-standing problem. Personally, I have observed that many of the state’s information technology (IT) graduates, including close friends and acquaintances, ended up working outside the state to start their careers.

The digital economy policy pioneered by the chief minister has helped arrest this to a certain extent, with the establishment of the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC) and others.

This has allowed our graduates, and future workforce to contribute back to the state instead of plying their trade elsewhere.

I recall in my column, commenting on the announcement of the Post-Covid-19 Economic Exit Strategy in May last year that I applauded the move to shift the focus to digital economy as the main economic core.

I think it is timely and more importantly, achievable. My view still stands. In the larger context, the emphasis on sustainable, renewable energy is undoubtedly daunting — it is new and is something that ordinary folk will be less familiar with.

But then again, in the modern world, we should constantly be on the alert to get to the forefront of technological and industrial shifts — the global hydrogen economy is expected to be a $11 trillion economy by 2030 to 2050.

With the plans for development in place for Sarawak to be a developed state by 2030, the most important thing is that the people must welcome change and be supportive of policies that will improve the livelihood of the masses.

We can’t keep fighting the same battles while others have moved on to better things — the political stability must be there to ensure the outcomes of the development strategy can be achieved.

It is incumbent on the people of Sarawak to maintain the spirit of healthy and mature politics as the way forward.

We can’t be playing politics when there are still those who are left behind in the industrial revolution cycle. Instability due to divisive politics will only lead to lop-sided development.

Sarawakians should come together and work to ensure that Sarawak can be a developed
and a high-income state by 2030.