Abang Johari (eighth left, second row) and others with school representatives who received financial assistance. Photos: Mohd Alif Noni

SAMARAHAN: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government has allocated a total of RM17 million to assist Chinese schools in Sarawak this year.

In addition to the RM9 million grant handed over earlier for Chinese independent secondary schools this year, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has announced an allocation of RM8 million to a special unit to manage financial assistance to Chinese primary schools in the state.

“So, in total, this is RM17 million from the GPS government and there are more direct donations from our elected representatives to the Chinese schools. In other words, we feel that we must help as far as education is concerned,” he said when officiating at the opening ceremony of the new SJK Chung Hua Bako here today.

He said that the state government is also committed to helping mission schools, adding that this was their policy as long as the state government had the funds.

“If the state is stable and peaceful and the economy is good, the state will get extra revenue. Why not share this with the Chinese schools and other aided schools as well as institutions of higher learning which we must build for the sake of our Sarawakians?” he said.

He said that when Jonathan Chai Voon Tok — president of the Association of the Boards of Management of Aided Chinese Primary Schools in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions — came to discuss the new SJK Chung Hua Bako with him, he promised to match one-to-one the funding that Chai managed to obtain for the construction of the new school.

“He said he managed to get RM3 million, so I gave him another RM3 million. I have fulfiled my promise,” Abang Johari said, adding that the community would benefit from the school.

He said that the state government is very serious in looking into education matters, including the repair of dilapidated schools in the state.

“The moment you have a child, you want him or her to be educated.”

He said that the state government would always try its best to resolve any problem faced by the community, adding that they did so through their actions rather than just talk.

On another note, he said that the state is heading towards digital economy but emphasised that this would take time. He pointed out that the Sarawak government is the first state government to apply for a digital banking licence from Bank Negara.

“We are in the midst of improving our digital infrastructure. We hope that by the next five to seven years, our digital infrastructure will have high speed so that digital banking and so on can operate.

“We have to plan properly for this. What we need is continuity, and then we can work for the future of Sarawak,” said Abang Johari.

Also present were Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian; Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong; Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin; Assistant Minister of International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais; Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Sebastian Ting; Kota Samarahan MP Rubiah Wang; and deputy president of the Association of the Boards of Management of Aided Chinese Primary Schools in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions Rodger Chan.