Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg deliver his speech. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has given a piece of land and allocated RM20 million to the Dayak Cultural Foundation (DCF) and Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) for the construction of their new headquarters known as the Panggau Dayak Towers. This new development for the Dayaks is yet another manifestation of the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s inclusivity towards helping and bringing more development to the community in the state. The following is an abridged version of Abang Johari’s speech at the earth-breaking ceremony of the DCF and DCCI new headquarters at Jalan Ong Tiang Swee on Tuesday (Oct 20).

Abang Johari

FIRSTLY, I want to thank DCF and DCCI for giving me the honour to officiate yet another significant project for the development of the Dayak community in Sarawak.

I feel this is a reflection of our government which has an inclusive policy, I am not a chief minister for the Malays only but I am the chief minister for all races that are in Sarawak. That is why when I was informed that the Dayaks wanted to have a building that could preserve the culture of Sarawak, especially the Dayak culture, and where DCF could be involved in the development of our economy, I said alright I approved one area for these two organisations.

As you know, this is a very strategic location in our city. In this area, the Bidayuhs also have their own headquarters and they, too, want to build a hostel. I have already approved the allocation for that.

This reflects that we are together in bringing development for the respective races. Now, with the Covid-19 pandemic, everything has changed. After Covid-19, the whole landscape will change. It is no longer business as usual, even greetings with friends are different. The state government has its our own direction so that by the year 2030, Sarawak will be the most developed state in Malaysia.

For that to happen, we have to upgrade the environment and basic infrastructure. We have also taken steps to improve our talents and we must take note of what is happening around the world because we are part and parcel of the global economic agenda. We cannot be separated anymore because of IT technology transformation.

Having said that, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, the Dayak leaders in the government and I decided to prepare the Dayaks to participate in these significant changes in economic landscape. 

For your new headquarters, you have two towers — one is for business and commerce and the other one is for you to sustain and protect your Dayak culture.  

Three weeks ago, I went to Kapit up to Nanga Mujong on a motorbike. it took me one hour 45 minutes to travel from Sibu to Kapit. When I was only 15 years old, I followed my father to visit Kapit and it took us about seven hours from Sibu. Today, it is just one hour 45 minutes. That shows the great changes that have taken place. This road has opened up the land and new agricultural developments for the Rajang River areas.

Development — Sarawak 2030

Our next development agenda up to 2030 is to focus on digital economy and sustainable environment.

We want to protect our environment and we are going to have a new policy on forestry that is forestation. The new method is now being deliberated by the academics as well as professionals. We hope we can also claim carbon credits. I must congratulate you because you are going to have a green building. We are going towards green technology, and that will be our approach for the future.

With that in mind, the business opportunities will be there. In Sarawak, we have three main groups — the Dayaks, Malays/ Melanaus and Chinese. They are more or less of the same proportion — one third, one third, one third. Therefore, we must have this common platform among us because we know no one community can rule this state. It must be a collective responsibility of all races to develop this state and that will be my political platform, we cannot go away from that. Hence, the inclusivity approach.

I am very glad that after three years as your chief minister, I’ve very good cooperation from the communities and I have very good deputy chief ministers who helped me a lot. As you know, tackling Covid-19 is not easy, but your capable chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas managed to control it. Last night I saw his interview on TVS. The public can understand how Sarawak manages this Covid-19, and yesterday (Oct 19), there was zero case.

We hope it goes on like this. Also, thank God, we still have our autonomy on immigration where we can monitor and control the entries of people into Sarawak because we don’t want Sarawakians to get infected by Covid-19.

I hope that the Dayaks will continue to remain united and work together to develop our state. From 2025 right up to 2030, our infrastructure, water supply electricity plus road and bridges will be completed, meaning our hinterland will be huge. It is up to us again to fill the hinterland through our own innovations and creativity. You need to have that vision and you must be able to innovate and create new businesses in the new era.

A group of ushers clad in various ethics traditional costumes got together for a wefie. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

Bright future

Finally, I must tell you that our future is bright in terms of economic diversification. We will diversify our economy based on the agriculture sector which is going to be the main one and includes forestry reforestation. We can reach out to markets beyond Sarawak waters through digital commerce. To develop our talents, we will set up international schools that are meant for the intelligent.

We are putting up five international schools. Even though one professor said we were breaching the law, we said no. Our Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report is very clear that the present system should continue unless otherwise decided by the State Legislative Assembly (DUN), but that remains unchanged until today. Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will protect that system. That is why we go for international schools based on the Cambridge syllabus. 

We do not want our children to be just champions in the villages. We want them to be champions in the world. Therefore, their foundation must be world class. This is because I have managed to have a cooperation through Yayasan Sarawak which collaborates with London School of Economics, Cambridge, Oxford and Stanford in the United States. When our children are eligible to enter these international universities, Yayasan Sarawak will give them scholarships to study because we need the talents in our efforts to improve the economy.

I want to congratulate the Dayaks on your new headquarters. Your two towers can compare to the Petronas Towers. But having said that, we won the case against Petronas and I can assure that is the first step towards a modern era. The Dayaks are part and parcel of the new community in this new era.

This is the message I want to tell you, and Uggah, who is also the Second Finance Minister, knows we have the revenue. That is why he requested for assistance for the completion of the building. I think what we do it on a one-to-one basis; whatever amount you raise for that RM16 million, if you manage to get RM8 million, then we give you RM8 million.

But it will be done only next year. Make sure Douglas and I are still here. That is the key. What the people of Sarawak want is a stable government and a government that delivers.

Artist’s impression on DCF and DCCI new headquarters (Panggau Dayak Towers). Photo: Mohd Alif Noni