It does not work if we do not work hard. Now, we are duty-bound to build on what we have received from our forefathers and there is no other way for us to do it except for us to unite in a common goal towards creating a Sarawak Cemerlang.
– Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, Premier
I was in Sarawak this Wednesday (November 9) to interview Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
We spoke about his aspirations and vision for Sarawak to become a developed state by the year 2030. The Premier was very firm in stating that though there are two schools of thoughts in Malaysia – the unitary state, where all the powers of government are vested in the central government versus a federal state, where the powers of government are divided between the centre and the units – he strongly stands firm that because we formed Malaysia as a Federation, we must remain a federation to respect the constitutional arrangement.
The Premier stresses that when one builds a country one must be inclusive.
“We are a multi-racial, multi-religious society and respect must be earned, not commanded. It is the foundation for us to move forward in unity, harmony and fairness. If you want to be a global player, the prerequisite is that your character has to be global. The mindset has to be global. Our command of a universal language has to be up to mark.
“Sarawak must remain having two languages being equally important – Bahasa Malaysia and English –
while we encourage the uptake of local native languages. We also need to adapt to global economic powerhouses such as China and Mandarin-speaking investors overseas.
“So, in Sarawak, we recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) a pre-university exam that is exclusively taken by students who are studying at Chinese Independent High Schools. This UEC certificate is recognised by many prestigious universities in the world. Though as of today, there are 60 registered Chinese independent high schools in Malaysia, only Sarawak is recognising this certificate. Both the late Pehin Sri Tan Sri Adenan Satem and I decided it would be in the best interest of Sarawak to ensure our workforce get the best education they deem fit. If our people are the best, our economy is strong.
“We have a huge land mass, a population of 2.8 million, an abundance of natural resources. Combine that with new technology and we are fortifying ourselves in every possible way – future proofing ourselves the best way we can.”
Sarawak under the Premier’s leadership is focused on digitalisation, renewable energy, green hydrogen, sustainable development, smart agriculture and tourism, and has also achieved a number of milestones – for instance in 2019, Sarawak leapfrogged Johor to become the state with the third highest GDP in the country and in 2021 it became the state with the third highest GDP per capita in the country.
“I was invited to give a talk on green energy by the Tokyo Metrological Agency. When I was there I had a meeting with Sumitomo on a new technology where you split hydrogen and oxygen using MCH (methylcyclohexane) so that the process is accelerated instantly compared to previous methodologies, greatly reducing the cost of production. We will work with them on this very new (barely six months old) technology, producing and exporting to them, while chalking up carbon credits in the process for our carbon sink,” smiles Abang Johari.
“We are going to be the leading forefront for renewable energy, thus ensuring a very Environmental, social and governance (ESG) friendly ecosystem in Sarawak which is going to attract global investors. Our economy will be in tune with the green and blue energy economies of the future.
“We have a lot of talents here in Sarawak. Sarawakians from all over the world are now coming back home to build back better because our economy and industries are opening up with a multitude of opportunities. This gives us immense motivation to keep pushing forward with our strategies on ensuring there are a lot of high income, high technology jobs and industries to attract the best of the brains here.
“With regard to food security, we are inviting Singaporean entities to have production centres here because we have the land and the agriculture potential.”
The Premier is studying the sovereign funds of Singapore and Norway and also attended the Sovereign Fund Forum in London, so that he can study and introduce the Sarawak Sovereign Fund to ensure a safety buffer for Sarawak in years to come.
“I was in the government for 40 years and I know that before I became CM, Sarawak’s highest revenue was RM6 billion, but today the revenue for the last four years is standing at RM10 billion. And this is because I have re-engineered revenue by diversifying multiple revenue streams.”
The Premier, in my opinion, is re-engineering Sarawak to be the brightest jewel in the region. Insya’allah he will succeed brilliantly.
The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org
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