KUCHING: Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg took time out to give recently retired Datuk Amar Jaul Samion some well-deserved credit for his 42 years of service to the state.
Speaking at Jaul’s appreciation dinner here yesterday he recalled how just after Jaul’s appointment as State Secretary, he had to face the many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Other than that, we had to formulate the Post COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030, where I requested that he harness all the experts from the civil service and the private sector to formulate the strategy to bring our economy back to normal,” he said.
Abang Johari pointed out that the State needed a new direction in its economic development, which gave rise to the launch of the digital economy agenda.
“This is something new and Jaul has done his best to help the government adjust our economic development towards a digital economy and post pandemic recovery.”
Abang Johari’s close working relationship with Jaul however began a long time before that.
He recalled the time when the then Chief Minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, after the election in 1987, had tasked him with setting up a new ministry and giving Sarawak’s economy a new direction.
“The rationale was that Sarawak’s economy at that time was basically agricultural and Tun Taib wanted us to shift toward industrialisation,” he said, pointing out that Jaul was then assistant secretary at the State Planning Unit.
“It was a tall order and it was not easy to form a news ministry from scratch where we needed economic expertise to help us chart the direction of industrialisation.
“The entire State Planning Unit, including Jaul was tasked with assisting me with the formation of this new ministry,” he said.
He emphasised that the task at hand was not an easy one especially when it came down to promoting Sarawak to investors to start their industry in the state.
“At the end of 1987, we went to the United States as well as Europe together with Tan Sri Rafizah Aziz (former Minister of International Trade and Industry).
“After the extensive promotion, we were able to start the industrial programme in Sarawak in Sejingkat, Sama Jaya, Kemena and later in Tanjung Manis as well as Kidurong.
“And we were also able to convince Shell and Petronas to set up a Synthesis Distillation Plant (SMDS) in Bintulu, the world’s first.
“And these were some of Jaul’s contribution at that time,” he pointed out.
Apart from that, Abang Johari stated that Sarawak was also able to bring investment in the state through electronic companies in Sama Jaya such as Toko Electronic, Taiyo Yuden and many others.
“For these contributions, I want to thank you very much for what you have done,” he added.