Highlanders get RM1.5 bln

No one is left behind; everyone gets a slice of the cake: CM

MIRI: True to his word, no community in Sarawak is left behind.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has set aside RM1.5 bln to develop the highlands in northern Sarawak, including Bario, to uplift the lot of the people there.

He said the Highland Development Agency (HDA) would spend the money in a span of two years for the purpose of upgrading infrastructure.

THIRST-QUENCHING DRINK…Abang Johari tasting the pineapple drink at the Bario Food and Culture Festival (Pesta Nukenen Bario).

“After the conceptualisation of the plan last year, the HDA this year will roll out the projects, which should be in the tender process,” he said when launching the 14th Bario Food and Cultural Festival (Pesta Nukenen Bario) here.

Abang Johari said he had always focused on balanced development, where rural areas were given attention equally in the state’s development – infrastructure, roads, electricity and water supply.

The state government has a long-term plan from 2020 to 2025 specifically for rural areas, including Bario.

Among the potential developments in Bario are tourism and agriculture such as flower and food industries.

The chief minister also announced an approved allocation for upgrading works from Bario to Long Banga, including annual fees for the maintenance works amounting to RM3 million.

Touching on tourism development, he voiced out the need to boost the Internet connection speed in Bario from 50 Mbps to 100 Mbps in order for digital economy to work there, adding that he would direct the Sarawak Multimedia Authority to look into this.

Abang Johari also hinted on the possibility of establishing a new airport in Bario or the purchase of a 20-seater Airbus helicopter or maybe both.

“We have to see (first) how much we can generate from our oil and gas as well as the improvement of accessibility of Bario,” he said.

He also noted that he would consider the position of Temenggong Kelabit in the near future as well as leaving the proposal for the Nukenen Festival to be included in the calendar year to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports.

The same event also saw Abang Johari announcing an allocation of RM50,000 to Rurum Kelabit for the purpose of the Nukenen Festival.

Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas; Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; acting State Secretary Datuk Jaul Samion; State Legislative Assembly deputy speaker Datuk Gerawat Gala, Lampir assemblyman Ripin Lamat and Rurum Kelabit Sarawak president Dr Philip Raja.

Abang Johari striking the ‘gong’ to launch the festival at Bario last Saturday.