Since the start of his term in 2016, Tasik Biru incumbent Datuk Henry Harry Jinep has diligently driven development in Bau and he has plans to bring the area to even greater heights in due time.
“When I first came in, there were a lot of things to be done and I had to leapfrog my area. To me, five years seems to be not enough to do all these things,” he said in a recent exclusive interview.
He recalled that the moment he had stepped into office as an elected representative, the first project he set out to do was the development of SMK Singai, an abandoned and delayed project.
“The new contractor came in, we pushed the project, and we were able to complete it ahead of schedule at the time. It was a big achievement, and I went to site almost every month to get the report and to make sure that they deliver,” he said.
He also said that water supply was a major issue in Bau, with old pipes and increasing needs due to the rise in population, housing and businesses as well as more areas being opened up.
“The water that we had was not sufficient for the whole population. So, I had to work hard to continue to request for funding from the chief minister. We were lucky that the chief minister approved RM140 million for water supply projects for Bau, which will expand up to Lundu,” he said.
Henry also actively contributed towards efforts relating to the issuance of Native Customary Rights land titles to the people.
“I have been in the exercise to carry out land documentation through the Dayak Bidayuh National Association when I was the chairman in 2009.
“After I became a YB, I continued to bring up this matter until today. Most of the lands have been titled and the Land and Survey Department is on the ground. A total of 2,466 land titles have been issued in my area over the last five to six years,” he said.
With regard to Rural Transformation Programme (RTP), he said he had managed to disburse an estimated RM42 million over his five-year tenure.
He said each Gabungan Parti Sarawak elected representative was allocated RM5 million a year, which meant he would receive RM25 million over five years for RTP.
“But I didn’t stop there — I continued to seek and ask for more funding and allocations where I see that there is a need for my area to be upgraded or developed,” he remarked.
Striving for infrastructure development
Henry has placed great emphasis on infrastructure development, understanding its importance for the people and the area.
These include the development of road projects such as Kampung Apar Bypass and Tanjung Poting-Tanjung Bowang-Senibong Road as well as bridges such as Tondong-Seduku Bridge and Buso-Musi Bridge.
“All these are for the benefit of the rakyat. We provide alternative connectivity for the people to and from Bau,” he said.
He said among the largest infrastructure developments in his area was the upgrading of the stretch of road from Sibuluh to Bau into a dual-carriageway, linking Bau town to the Pan Borneo Highway.
He said this dual-carriageway upgrade would also be implemented from Bau all the way to Batu Kitang.
“So, these are among the biggest projects that we have achieved so far — not only in Tasik Biru but for Bau as a whole,” he said.
Blueprint for Bau District 2016-2030
During his five-year tenure, Henry also started developing the Blueprint for Bau District 2016-2030.
This plan encompasses eight components, namely amenities and infrastructures; housing and real estate; tourism, arts, culture and sports; agriculture; capacity building; land matters; publications; and industrialisation and investment.
“Under our Blueprint, we want to develop the Bau Gold Mine Museum and Park. The state government financed a RM1.5 million study to be carried out for this project.
“This study itself tells us a lot of historical facts about Bau, which is how we came up with the idea to celebrate Bau’s 200th anniversary, the Bau Bicentennial Celebration,” he said.
With Bau’s 200-year existence, he said people would certainly expect better development, good infrastructure, socioeconomic and business activities, tourism, land utilisation, and human capital development.
“We should move forward and progress,” he stressed.
Serikin as an international gateway
With the development of Greater Bau, Henry said that Serikin should also be recognised as an international gateway.
“As the capital of Indonesia is moving to Kalimantan, we want to leverage on that as well, whereby there are 16.3 million people in Kalimantan,” he said.
He said once Serikin was recognised as an international gateway, they could build an Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security Complex of international standard, providing more convenience for the flow of people between Sarawak and Indonesia.
He said Bau would certainly benefit from this increased flow of people from Kalimantan.
“When more people come to Bau, it can be an international transit town. Once this happens, it will spur the development of hotels, tourism, apartments, malls and other business activities.
“On top of this, there will also be trade between the two sides. These activities will make Bau become more vibrant,” he said.
Nevertheless, he said prior to all this, there was a need to improve Bau’s infrastructure, logistics and connectivity, including internet connectivity.
“Internet and infrastructure are two major and important points in developing Greater Bau,” emphasised Henry.