Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi

KUCHING: The setting up of the Upper Rajang Development Agency (Urda) was a masterstroke to catalyse rural development said Kapit MP Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi.

He said with Urda along with other development agencies across the state, it had reflected the state government’s policy to develop rural areas.

“It also quashed the perception held by the some sections of the public three years ago that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, being a leader from an urban area was not emphasising on rural development.

“That was the impression people had on him, but within three months of assuming the chief minister position, he came to Kapit and announced the formation of Urda,” he said in a videotaped interview with an online portal last Wednesday.

Nanta said besides Urda, which focused on the central region of Sarawak, the state government also formed Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA) and Highland Development Agency (HDA) focusing on the northern area and the hinterlands respectively.

“For areas that are better developed, the chief minister said that work must be done to cater for the socio-economic aspect of the dwellers.

“So, he announced that these regions would become food baskets for Sarawak which would bring socio-economic benefits as well as assisting the nation and state in the food industry,” he said.

Nanta said while previously there were efforts to develop rural areas, most of the projects given did not fulfil the needs of the populace.

“Before this it was using the top down approach, namely the development was pushed to us. However there are instances that we feel that we don’t need the project.

“But this (Urda) is using the bottom up approach, fulfilling the needs of the beneficiaries which should be the case in the first place,” said Nanta who is Federal Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs.

He said with the right vision and commitment by the state government, the dream for Sarawak to be a developed state by 2030 could be achieved.

“To me, the whole idea (of development agencies) by the chief minister was a game changer.

“Bottom line is that the target for Sarawak to be more developed than it is now by 2030 can be achieved and I think all Sarawakians must play a part in realising this vision,” he said.