Accelerating Economic Growth

KUCHING: Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) must play greater roles in empowering people to embrace change and help usher Sarawak into the digital era.

In saying this, Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg noted that SEDC had contributed enormously to the development of Sarawak in the past 45 years and would continue to play a major part in moving the state into the digital economy.

In this challenging era, we need to accelerate entry into the digital economy because that’s the future of the world. And to do so, we need the knowledge, skills and command in technology. But technology changes very fast and unless you keep up, you’ll be left behind, he reminded.

He emphasised that it was the urgency to leapfrog Sarawak into the digital fast lane that brought about his latest cabinet reshuffle with focus shifted towards building human capacities, e-commerce, international trade, urban public transport and many other essential portfolios to prepare and open up Sarawak for the digital age.

Abang Johari highlighted this at SEDC’s 45th anniversary dinner at Riverside Majestic Hotel here on Tuesday, attended by SEDC chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr Abdul Aziz Dato Husain, former SEDC chairman who is Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi Abdul Ghani, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian and Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh.

Image and data, he pointed out, were the basics and important platform and tools for Sarawak to move forward.

I feel that Sarawak must be in the forefront of technology. We cannot depend entirely, 100 per cent, on Putrajaya.

We have to move on our own. We need to changewe need to create and provide opportunities for our people to prosper in this digital economy, he said.

To propel Sarawak to become a developed state, Abang Johari said the RM1 billion investment put into setting up digital infrastructure was crucial and could lead to robust economic growth.

With high speed connectivity and cloud computing to cover the entire Sarawak and people have access to the Internet anytime, anywhere, you can expand your business to reach a market of three billion consumers in the region at least, he said.

You can reach for instance 1.4 billion people in India, 1.4 billion in China, 600 million in the Asean region as well as Japan and Korea, all within six hours’ flight time only. So we must get connected first before we can secure the market, he added.

The 60 per cent of Sarawak’s population of 2.7 million who are 45 years old and below, he said, will be the key agents to steer the state towards digitalisation with their creativity and innovativeness.

Abang Johari expressed confidence that SEDC, which has significant involvement in various businesses in the state such as urban transportation including the proposed Light Rail Transit (LRT) as well as oil and gas projects particularly the proposed Methanol plant in Bintulu, will help translate the vision of Sarawak to become an advanced and developed state into reality.

LRT is important not only for the locals and tourists to move about and get around but help leapfrog Sarawak’s economy. While many think that my vision is too big and far to achieve, I will do it and I will not retreat, he assured.

I took over Housing (ministry) with a debt of RM30 million and I have turned it around. The vision to have an efficient public transport including the proposed LRT will be achieved, you mark my word, he said.

He assured that Sarawak will prosper with ICT, Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS) to finance local strategic projects, sustainable power (electricity) and water from acquisition of Bakun Dam and availability of major dams in the state, modernise agriculture sector as well as opportunities in oil and gas industry including setting up of a methanol plant.

Along the journey, the rural population will embrace technology and new economy, in the next 10 to 15 years, Sarawak will be the forefront state in Malaysia, he added.

Abang Johari’s wife Datin Amar Datuk Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, Uggah’s wife Datin Amar Doreen Mayang, Morshidi’s wife Puan Sri Datin Amar Saptuyah Suib as well as SEDC board members, stakeholders and staff were among those present.

Source: Borneo post online