Sarawak, in the 60s and 70s was under developed and the economy was largely based on agriculture, forestry and mining. Then the economic activities were largely low value added; they could barely meet the basic needs of the rakyat.
The incidence of poverty was approximately 50.0% and the average monthly income per house hold was about RM580. The access to basic infrastructure and social impeded the expansion of economic activities.
Obviously, connectivity and accessibility, considering the big size of the State and the scattered population in rural areas, were the biggest challenges being faced by the Government in undertaking development activities.
In 1980, Sarawak has only 15 Government hospitals and 165 doctors. Now, the situation has improved and the rakyat have better access to health services with 22 hospitals and 1,717 doctors. The quality of health services has also improved with better doctor to population ratio from one doctor serving 7,068 people in 1980 to one doctor serving 1,483 people in 2012.
The State’s road network has increased from about 5,000 kilometres in 1980 to 23,000 kilometres in 2013. The electricity coverage has also expanded from 34.0% in 1980 to 90.0% in 2013.
About 86.0% of the population has enjoyed treated water supply in 2013 as compared to 32.0% in 1980. Admittedly, there are still gaps in the provision of basic infrastructure between the urban and rural areas.
Sarawak, despite the slowdown in the global economy, continued to record positive economic growth at 4.2% in 2013; it is expected to grow at 5.0% this year. Sarawak is the third largest contributor to the Malaysian economy.
Reputable international and local rating agencies such as Moody’s Investors Services and Standard & Poor’s have been giving good ratings to Sarawak’s good economic performance.
Moody’s Investors Services gives A3 Stable Outlook and Standard & Poor’s A- Stable Outlook. Undoubtedly, these are good ratings that help to enhance investors’ confidence in doing business in the State.
The State’s real GDP has increased significantly from RM3.5 billion in 1980 to RM75.0 billion in 2013. Over the same period, the GDP Per Capita has increased manifolds from RM4,066 to RM41,115. This is well above the National GDP Per Capita of RM32,984.
With rapid economic growth, the value of trade has increased tremendously from RM6.3 billion in 1980 to RM147.0 billion in 2013. The balance of trade remained positive and increased substantially from RM1.7 billion in 1980 to RM68.7 billion in 2013.
The rakyat are now able to enjoy better livelihoods with more new business and employment opportunities. As a result of rapid economic growth, more and more employment opportunities were created. This can be seen in the increased numbers of job vacancies from 374 in 1980 to 68,646 in 2012.
Arguably, the unemployment rate was reduced from 5.8% in 1980 to 3.8% in 2013. The average monthly income per household has also increased from RM580 in 1980 to RM4,293 over the same period. Due to systematic and relentless Government intervention in poverty eradication, great success has been made.
Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem in his recent speech during a mammoth rally and parade held in conjunction with the Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud’s 78 official birthday, said the socio-economic landscape started to change with increases in development momentum when Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, then Datuk Amar Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, took over the helm of the State leadership as the Chief Minister on March 26, 1981.
A total of 114 contingents, representing uniformed and non uniformed organisations including youth, cultural and welfare bodies, community associations, government departments, statutory bodies, Institutions of higher learning, Police and the Army, were mounted during the parade, the biggest ever held for any events.
Under his leadership from March 26, 1981 to February 28, 2014, Sarawak achieved success by leaps and bounds in all aspects of development, be it physical, economic and social. The progress made has benefitted the Rakyat be they in urban or rural areas.
Undoubtedly, the success of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s Politics of Development has brought about political stability, rapid economic growth, prosperity, social harmony and unity among the various ethnic groups.
The implementation of Politics of Development, to address both the development issues and challenges, emphasises on the socio-economic equity and changing the mindset of the rakyat so that they could effectively participate in the process of development.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan, in paying a glowing tribute to Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib said his predecessor was a leader ahead of his time. For example, he made tireless efforts in preparing Sarawak to face greater challenges brought about by globalisation, trade liberalisation, ICT and k-economy.
He initiated the development of Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone for the setting up of high tech industries like the wafer fabrication plant and other sophisticated industrial plants in the zone.
Undoubtedly, the development of Sama Jaya Free Industrial Zone, which has successfully attracted many young talented Sarawakians working abroad to return and serve the State, has positioned it in the forefront of high tech electronic industries.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan, who served in various capacities in the State Government being led by Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, said the State Government has always been pragmatic in introducing several new measures to accelerate economic growth and development. These included the economic diversification policy that had changed the structure of the State’s economy from primary sector based on commodities to higher value - added manufacturing and service sectors.
Indisputably, many achievements had been made including the success of attracting more private investment and creating more new business and employment opportunities for the rakyat over these years.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the incidence of poverty has been reduced drastically from 47.8% in 1980 to 2.4% in 2012. Obviously, the Government is committed in addressing this issue through the continued implementation of the various poverty eradication programmes.
He said the Government, with political stability, strong economic foundation and social harmony, had been able to plan and implement more development programmes including the provision of health and education services to the rakyat.
He said a lot of efforts have been made to improve the quality of education in the overall efforts to develop the human capital, which is one of the pillars in the country’s development in the State. Obviously, the efforts have produced encouraging results as manifested in the better teacher to student ratio in the secondary schools from 26 in 1980 to 14 in 2012.
He believes Sarawakians, with the presence of 110 institutions of higher learning including technical colleges, are enjoying better access to tertiary education including opportunities to further their studies in the branch campus of foreign universities.
He said rural transformation will be one of the key thrusts of the State’s Eleventh Malaysia Plan. The State government under him remains committed to address the gap between urban and rural development. Hence, it will work closely with the Federal Government to ensure success in bridging the gap.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan said his predecessor’s wisdom in realising the potentials of water, with Sarawak being blessed with many rivers and plenty of water, has brought about the systematic development of hydro dams to generate electricity to attract energy intensive industries.
This idea has led to the formulation and subsequent implementation of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy or SCORE, which is of a long - term development plan to propel Sarawak to become a developed and high income State by 2020.
He said SCORE continues to make good progress. More investors have expressed their interest to invest in SCORE. The State has been successful in attracting many trigger projects such as aluminium smelting, ferro alloy, polysilicon, metallic silicon and chemical industries.
The development of trigger industries has better positioned Sarawak to attract supporting industries including local Small and Medium Industries. The establishment of both trigger and supporting industries augurs well with the plan to develop clusters for the respective industries.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan said 19 projects, which are expected to create more than 16,000 direct job opportunities, have been approved in SCORE with total investment of more than RM32.0 billion. Samalaju Industrial Park continues to be the main attraction.
He said 15 projects with a total investment of more than RM27.0 billion have been approved in the Park. The remaining four projects with investment worth more than RM5.0 billion are located each in Mukah, Tanjung Manis and Kidurong. This reflects the confidence of investors on SCORE as an attractive investment destination in the region.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan assured the timely provision of social and basic infrastructure in Samalaju Industrial Park. The construction works related to Samalaju New Township, Hotel, Service Centre, Samalaju Port and other industrial infrastructures are progressing well.
He believed SCORE has provided Sarawak with the foundation for industrialisation for it to prosper in the years ahead. Therefore, the State government has decided to go along the path of industrialisation towards the year 2020 and beyond.
However, the establishment of trigger or even downstream industries demands the availability of technical and skilled manpower. Therefore, young people must take up technical training to meet such demands.
16 October 2014