Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sarawak performs well in attracting investments

Sarawak has consistently been performing well in attracting investments, both foreign and domestic and is ranked among the top four states over the last six years in Malaysia, which attracted the highest value of investments.   This achievement is by no mean an accident but the result of the hard work and efforts, coupled with business-friendly policies of the State Government.
Sarawak attracted the highest investment totaling RM7.3 billion from January to March 2014, followed by Kedah (RM4 billion) and Selangor   (RM1.9 billion) based on the latest report from MIDA (Malaysian Investment Development Authority).Out of the RM7.3 billion investment received, RM7.1 billion (97%) came from foreign investment. 
The major sources of foreign investment came from Japan with investment of RM5.1 billion in chemicals and chemical products and RM1.2 billion in basic metal products. These new investments are expected to generate over 1,300 employment opportunities.

In 2013, Sarawak registered a total investment valued at RM8.3 billion in the manufacturing sector, which was 77% more than the RM4.7 billion achieved in 2012.  Out of the RM8.3 billion registered, RM6.8 billion or 82% came from foreign investment while the remaining RM1.5 billion or 18% came from domestic investment.  The investments are expected to generate about 3,400 employment opportunities in the State, which is 55% more than the 2,200 employment opportunities generated in 2012.

The Minister of Industrial Development, Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Ali Hassan in winding the debate on the opening speech of the Yang di Pertua Negeri, said in the first quarter of 2014, State Industrial Coordination Committee (ICC) approved 23 projects with a total investment of RM105.9 million, mainly in wood-based industry and services.  Most of the investments approved came from domestic investment (99%). These investments are expected to generate about 1,000 employment opportunities in the State.

In addition, the State Industrial Coordination Committee (ICC) approved 44 projects in 2013 with a total investment of RM116 million and generating about 1,100 employment opportunities, mainly in food processing, wood-based activities and services. 

Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah said the economy of Malaysia is projected to record a stable growth of around 4.5% to 5.5% for the year 2014 as forecasted by Bank Negara. The growth rate for Sarawak is projected to rise to 5%.

He said though the growth of the global economy was a bit sluggish in 2013 with uneven growth momentum, Malaysia recorded a growth rate of 4.7% in 2013, which was motivated by strong internal demand.   Sarawak recorded a growth rate of 4.7% with positive growth in all sectors.

He said the people have reasons to be grateful that Sarawak has been enjoying political stability, peace and harmony among the various ethnic and religious groups. This has enabled the government to focus on the development agenda particularly the development of of the mid region of the State under Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). 

This new initiative was the brainchild of the Yang di Petua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud when he was the Chief Minister of Sarawak.  His Excellency made invaluable contribution with SCORE increasingly becoming the new source of wealth for the people of Sarawak. 

As the chief architect of SCORE, the leadership of Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, which was visionary, prepared a solid foundation for the state economy for the new generations. The new Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Adenan Haji Satem will continue with the agenda of SCORE to attain the status of an industrialized state to ensure that the Rakyat with enjoy high income in their livelihood. 
.Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah said the State Government will continue to make SCORE as an attractive investment destination in the region to propel the State towards a high income and advanced economy by 2020.  In this respect, various infrastructure projects such as access roads to hydro-electric power (HEP) projects, airport, deep sea port, industrial parks, diverse utility projects, namely water and electricity supplies and telecommunication networks are being implemented to meet the requirements of the investors. 

He said the access road to Murum Hydroelectricity dam project, Samalaju Water Supply Project involving the construction of 80 MLD water treatment plant, 5 MLD elevated reinforced concrete reservoir and associated facilities, the development of interim port facilities at Samalaju Port are among the many projects that have been completed. 

The interim port facilities have the capacity to handle 4 million tonnes berthing per annum, equipped with two barge berths and one RORO Ramp.  Other projects are also progressing well and are at various stages of implementation. 
He said the development of the infrastructure projects, especially access roads to HEP Dam projects in the interior has also benefitted the Rakyat in the rural areas.  The road networks will integrate the urban and rural areas and thus unlock the economic potentials of the interior region, spur the development of relevant industries and create income-generating activities. 

This will ultimately improve the standard of living of the rural communities.  With better accessibility, the rural communities will be able to enjoy better social services such as health and education. 

Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah said the development of SCORE has attracted huge investment projects into the State. Currently, 18 investment projects have been approved in SCORE with total investment of RM29.43 billion and are expected to create over 15,000 job opportunities. 

Out of these, 14 projects with investment totaling RM24.17 billion are located at Samalaju Industrial Park, one project with total investment of RM0.6 billion is located in Mukah, two projects with total investment of RM2.11 billion are located at Tanjung Manis and one project with total investment of RM2.55 billion is located at Tanjung Kidurong. 

Besides the three companies that are in operation in Samalaju Industrial Park now, two other companies, namely Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd and OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd are currently constructing their manufacturing plants and facilities.

Asia Advanced Materials Sdn Bhd has completed the site preparatory works and two other companies, namely Elkem Carbon Malaysia Sdn Bhd and Cosmos Chemical Bhd are doing their site preparation. 

Six companies that had been approved and issued with manufacturing licences will begin their land preparation works once their Power Purchase Agreements have been finalised.  There are also investors at various stages of discussions and negotiations with the State Government on their interest to invest in SCORE, particularly at Samalaju Industrial Park.
Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah said the robust economic activities as a result of SCORE development have created job opportunities in the State.  Currently, 5,712 construction and operational workers are employed in various manufacturing plants and related facilities. The trigger projects in  SCORE have also created business opportunities especially to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), thereby creating further multiplier effects to the local economy, including job opportunities.  

In Sama Jaya High-Tech Park, Kuching, Comtec Solar International (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd is expected to complete its solar ingot and wafer plant soon.  When completed, the company is expected to produce 1,000 megawatt equivalent of solar wafers and employ 1,300 workers.  

All projects that are being implemented in the State, including those in Samalaju Industrial Park are subject to stringent requirements of the Department of Environment (DOE). 

The small and medium size industries have increasingly become the back borne of the development of the State and national economy. Based on the census of the economy in 2011, there were 645,136 small and medium size industries, which represent 97.3% of industries operating in the country. In Sarawak there were 43,830 SMIs as follows: 

No.of SMIs according to sectors
Economic census 2011
Agriculture and manufacturing
Mining and quarry



The contribution of SMIs under the SMIs Master plan 2012 – 2020 will increase as follows:

·          From 32.4% to 41% KDNK (Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar),

·          From 59% to 62% manpower; and 

·          From 19% to 25% export.

He said the Government is emphasizing on the development of SMIs in the efforts to achieve the status of high income economy through growth that will be spearheaded by innovation and productivity.   Various assistance and facilities are being developed to raise the capacity and capability of SMIs. This will enable them to compete in both inside the country and globally.

The allegation by the opposition that the government gives special attention to the foreign investors is totally incorrect.  Obviously, the opposition, though it has been informed repeatedly about efforts to assist SMIs, has no sincerity and interests in trying to assist the development of SMIs.  

Some of the programs of financial assistance being offered by various agencies of the State government in 2014 include Skim Pembangunan Ekonomi Desa (SPED) by SME Bank, Skim Pembangunan PKS (SDS), Dana Usahawan Muda (YEF), Dana Pembangunan Halal and and others with the total allocation of RM376 million.

TERAJU through Dana Mudahcara set aside RM100 million while Malaysian Industrial Development Fund through Easy Loan Scheme for the Service Sector, Easy Loan Scheme for the development of Service Capacity and others with a total allocation of RM60 million.
The Ministry of Industrial Development also provides a loan scheme for Small and Medium Industries and the development enterpreneurs program with a total allocation of RM2.75 million in 2014. The  Ministry, through the loan scheme, provides soft loans in the forms of capital flow, purchase of machine and equipment and purchase or renovation of premises.

The assistance being provided by the Government include Transformasi Kedai Runcit (TUKAR) and Transformasi Bengkel Automatif (ATOM) oleh KPDNKK (Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri, Koperasi dan Kepenggunaan), Business Accelerator Programme (BAP) and Enrichment and Enhancement Program by SME Corp comprise Program Peningkatan Usahawan Bumiputera (PUTERA) by SEDC; and Geran Pembangunan Pemasaran (MDG) by MATRADE. 
He regretted that the utilization of the allocation for Small and Medium Industries (SMIs), until April 2014 is quite low. For example Only RM21 million or 5% of the allocation of RM376 with SME bank is being used while only RM3.1 million out of the total of RM100 million with TERAJU  has been used during the same period and only RM6 million or 10% of the total allocation of RM60 million with MIDF has been used. 
Therefore, the Small and Medium Industries are urged to make full use of the facilities being set aside by the Government for further growth and development.  Besides the Government also provides incentives to small and medium industries to reduce their burden and facilitate growth and expansion of their industries. 
The incentives include Pioneering status and investment tax allowance; Development of industrial site which is provided with water and electricity supplies and communication facilities; Competitive land premium;  Flexible rate of payment during a period of five years; rebate on land premium during the stated period (30%-50% depending on the location); and competitive electricity and water tariff. 

He said the State government has invested more than RM3 billion to develop 29 industrial estates with a total acreage of more than 7,200 hectares throughout the State including Kuching, Kota Samarahan, Bintulu, Miri, Sarikei, Kapit, Lawas and Tanjung for local investors including Small and Medium industries.

The industrial sites include Samalaju Industrial Estate, with a total acreage of 8,800 hectares, which is being developed for heavy industries and power intensive.  The Government has also allocated 481 acres on land at Samalaju Industrial Estate for SMIs to ensure their involvement through projects of SCORE. 

This should reflect the intention of the Government, which has designated an area with a total acreage of 77,000 hectares at Tanjung Manis as Halal hub for food, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, to the development of more industrial estates for the business community throughout the state.

He said the Ministry of Industrial development has taken the initiative through the program of exploring opportunities in the industrial and commercial sector to go down with the related agencies as a step to promote awareness with regards to assistance being provided by the government among entrepreneurs in rural areas.

The agencies involved include SPU, Halal hub in the Chief Minister’s Department, MITI, MIDA, MIDF, SME Corp, SME Bank and MATRADE throughout the State. A total of 6,682 enterpreneurs have joined the program up to April 2014.

He said this is proof of the government commitment to give priority to local entrepreneurs and the business community. However, the initiatives will not serve any purpose if they are not taken advantage of by local SMIs, who need to be more proactive in facing the challenges and getting benefits from the programs being provided by the government,  

Sarawak Monitor
24 May 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Rural development a way to reduce social disequilibrium

Understandably, one of the thrusts of the 11th Malaysia Plan, which the Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Adenan Haji Satem, will elaborate in the next sitting of the State Legislative Assembly, is the emphasis on rural development from 2016.

The State has requested for a substantial allocation from Federal Government in order to bring about a rural transformation towards the year 2020 and beyond.    It will emphasize more on the development of infrastructure and economy in rural areas in order to eradicate the stigma of rural - urban divide in terms of socio- economic progress and prosperity and lifestyles of the people.

Sarawak, as the biggest state in Malaysia, is still lagging behind in term of infrastructure development as compared to more developed states in Peninsular Malaysia.  The State must catch up in order to be at par with the developed states as Malaysia embarks on a journey to become a developed nation by the year 2020.

For this reason, the State government has formulated Sarawak Socio-Economic Transformation Plan (SETP), which is a catch up Plan to develop the State starting from the 11th Malaysia Plan. This is indeed critical as the 11th Malaysia Plan is the last 5 Year Development Plan for us to achieve a high income and developed State status by 2020.

source :

Obviously, the State Government has to deal with rural development so that there will be less of social disequilibrium. In this regards, efforts to integrate rural and urban economies, as can been seen in developed countries, must be intensified as a well-developed rural economy will help to address the socio-economic imbalances between these areas. The rakyat irrespective of whether they are in rural or urban areas must be able to enjoy better income and higher quality of life. Hence, the efforts at rural transformation must be made a success. 

The Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem, who is also the Minister of Finance and Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, in his winding speech on the debate of the Yang di Pertua Negeri’s opening speech said the Government, despite the challenges, is adamant in developing the rural economy as a large portion of the population is residing in rural areas. The rural folks also deserve a good quality of life comparable to the urban areas. A well organized rural economy is important to support the development of Sarawak.

He said the best option is to formulate the development strategy that will broaden economic base by introducing more high value added activities in all sectors of the economy. Hence, Industrialization is the way forward for Sarawak, which must endeavor to attract more high tech industries to invest in the State.

In this regard, the existing industries must endeavor to deepen their industrial base for moving up the value chain and creating more value - added activities. The Government’s primary objective in developing the economy is to ensure continuity in the task to create sufficient business and employment opportunities for the rakyat.  The creation of more value added activities with all sectors of the economy will help to achieve this objective.

He believed a good and conducive business climate and investment environment is paramount for the private sector to decide on investing in rural areas. Initially, it is only logical that most of the industrial activities have to be concentrated in urban areas with better infrastructure and facilities needed by them.

However, the industries and businesses must develop and expand to rural areas in the industrialization, which will develop more industrial infrastructure in the urban and sub urban areas to support greater industrial development in the future. Besides, the government hasto adopt different strategies to develop rural economy as the areas are still lacking in basic infrastructure, which are the prerequisites for business activities.  Among the huge potentials of rural areas are in the fields of agriculture, eco-tourism, forest plantation and aquaculture.

He believed rural communities would be able to benefit from a transformed rural economy. Therefore, it is important for them to become active participants. They must organize themselves and be equipped with the right knowledge and skills to become successful entrepreneurs especially in the areas of eco-tourism, home stay and agriculture.

He hoped the private sector, through more business and jobs creations rural areas, would be able to contribute towards further reduction in the incidence of poverty.   The active involvement of the private sector in rural development is necessary in the overall efforts to address the issue of rural-urban migration. The rural people migrate to towns and cities because there is not much for them to wait in their own areas until they can be uplifted or developed. 

Datuk Patinggi Adenan assured that the State Government being led by him is serious in transforming the rural areas. It has provided substantial amount of budget to implement numerous programs and projects in rural areas for the benefits of the people. The State Government’s request for an additional sum of RM500 million is a clear manifestation of this.

He said the State government is asking for an additional allocation of RM500 million to implement projects in the form of basic infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supplies as well as social amenities in order to make rural areas more pleasant to the people.   The projects are indeed people centric as they put the people first.  Basically, minor rural projects and social programs under rural development are not one – off efforts.

He said the projects will be continued under the 11th Malaysia Plan to bring about marked improvements in the livelihood of the rural communities; the efforts will be continuous.  The first tranche of allocation amounting RM244.6 million has been disbursed to implement 1,032 projects and there are many more being planned and to be implemented. The Federal Government will continue to provide fund for Minor Rural Projects.  

He said the rural areas will be the primary producers of agriculture produce, livestock, aquaculture and many food items to meet domestic market. A large scale production through better farm mechanization, application of modern technology, improvement in the productivity of farmers and wider marketing network will enable the economy to be transformed as a major agriculture producer to meet global demand.  Hence, conscientious efforts must be made to find export outlets for agriculture products as the domestic market, which is comparatively small, cannot sustain this development.

Taking this into consideration, the State Government has completed a Socio-Economic Master Plan to chart out the development strategies and action plans to be undertaken to unlock these potentials commencing in the 11th Malaysia Plan, which has identified several growth nodes as the focus areas with the Government providing the necessary enablers and the private sector to invest as the engine of growth.

Basically, economic development is fundamental to the prosperity of any country. For this the State Government has put a lot of efforts to develop economy, which has been developed and expanded. As a result, the State is the third largest in the country after Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. Actually, the economy has got good credit rating with triple As with positive and stable outlook from credible rating agencies.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the State’s financial credibility manifests the fact that the Government, with the support and co-operation of the people, has been working hard to transform the economy from agriculture based to an economy, which is based on manufacturing and services. For example, the manufacturing and services sectors contributed 64.0% to the State’s economy in 2014. 

Rural Electricity Supply (Alternative) -

This is attributable to the shifting of the economy from agriculture to commercial and industrial based, which account for 60%.   The achievements were made possible due to farsighted development philosophy, policies and development plans that have been formulated and implemented over the year years. The State government is determined to do more in future to accelerate the economic growth and development to benefit the rakyat.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan regretted that DAP is opposing the State government’s request for an additional RM500 million for rural development, which will largely benefit the Bumiputera community. This additional allocation will be used for the implementation of rural projects such as Long Lama, Bako and Limbang bridges and some other rural roads.

But the crux of the matter is the opposition DAP is against rural development, which is a reflection of its true nature, no more pretence. All the talks about ‘Impian Rakyat’ is just a political gimmick to fool the rural people. This is just tokenism, it is not the substance.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan regretted that DAP is opposing his request for an additional RM500 million. He does not know PKR’s stand on rural development. They seem to be very quiet. But by virtue of association, he takes it they also oppose rural development. The truth will stand.

Rural Water Supply -

He assured that the additional allocation will be used for the implementation of rural projects such as Long Lama, Bako and Limbang bridges and other projects. The additional allocation is not only available to BN areas but those in the opposition but through channel of the Government.

The projects are infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity supplies, social amenity projects such as community halls, places of worship and sport facilities. In view of the different types of projects, scope and location, the cost of each project varies.

Therefore, it is not practical to provide the same amount of allocation for every project. The State Government machinery is in full gear to implement all rural transformation projects to ensure that they are completed on time for the benefits of the rakyat.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said SCORE has been successful in attracting investors to the State. The State government, in view of the encouraging demand, will continue to develop the SCORE areas though the development requires more funding. In this respect, the State Government is working closely with the Federal Government to seek more funding to develop the SCORE areas.

The State’s requests have been forwarded to the Federal Government under the 11th Malaysia Plan. In fact, the Prime Minister himself visited Samalaju Industrial Park on March 31, 2015 to see for himself the progress of the Park.  

Until the mid-70s Sarawak had only five divisions. Over time, the State government has increased the number of divisions to seven, nine, 11 and now 12 with Serian, as the newest division, will start operation beginning in early June.  It will be the special Gawai gift to the people of Serian, especially to the Bidayuh community.

Sarawak has already had Mukah Division for the Melanau community, Samarahan for the  Malay community, Sarikei and Sibu for the  Chinese community and Miri and Limbang for the Orang Ulu community.  Hence, it ought to have one division for the Bidayuh community; rightly Serian Division must become the pride of the Bidayuh community in recognition of their contribution to the State.

The 9 new Districts being established are Tebedu, Subis, Beluru, Sebauh, Tanjung Manis, Kabong, Pusa, Telang Usan and Bukit Mabong (Tunoh) and the four new Sub-Districts are Bario, Lapok, Mulu and Long Bedian. The administrative arrangements will be made in due course.  

Rural Roads -

The changes in administrative boundaries through the creation of new division, districts and sub districts are to meet the increased expectations of the rakyat in the provision of service delivery and the implementation of programs and projects. The divisional and district Administration is the hallmark of the State Government’s efforts to reach out to the people as government institutions are important front line agencies that serve the rakyat.

The people have always looked high upon the Resident and District Offices to resolve many of the ground issues being faced by them as well as to coordinate and implement projects in the divisions and districts.

This is in line to the rural transformation program as all of the new division, districts and sub districts are located in the rural areas. Through this exercise, it is expected that more development will take place in the new areas in years to come.  The success of Samarahan, Mukah and Betong being transformed to become more vibrant than what they used to be is a good example of this.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan believed new Serian Division and other new districts and sub districts will enjoy similar socio economic progress like Mukah, Samarahan and Betong divisions, which have  shown the way what can happen if an area is being declared a Division. It will accelerate development, economic activities in particular, as a way to accelerate further the development of rural areas.

In a lighter vein he said for the first few months he could not get used to the idea that he is the Chief Minister of Sarawak.  He recalled an occasion, when he was with the State Secretary, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohammed Morshidi Ghani and awaiting for the Yang di Pertua Negeri to come.  While waiting, he asked the State Secretary when the Chief Minister would be coming? The State Secretary replied with the smile, don’t you know you are Chief Minister? After 14 months, he is less confused now. .

Sarawak Monitor
22 May 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Kuching will become the mixture of old and new city

Arguably, the City of Kuching has gone through a transformation from a town of about 200,000 in the 70s to a city of about 800, 000 people now due to numerous steps being taken by the State government through the City Hall of Kuching North and the Municipality of Kuching city south to achieve a healthier development and at the same time maintain the unique feature to make Kuching city a modern city in the midst of history. 

Both the city hall and the Municipal council are being guided by the philosophy that the city should not pursue progress at the expensive of its root, which has been part of the local history for centuries. 

Kuching Waterfront

Generally, the State Government upholds the principle that the development of the city must take into consideration its unique features that should be preserved as its identity.   The city, which has a long history and continuous development, has been able to witness a lot development and changes. But the people remain happy and friendly not only among themselves but with the visitors too.

The city has a wide and long river, which, at one time, was not really appreciated as its important feature.  Actually, both sides of the city, one side being the Malay area and the other the Chinese area, are being surrounded by river banks. Hence, the development in Malay Kampong and the town area cannot be separated from the feeling of being peaceful and in tranquillity because they are being surrounded by rivers and natural environment. The river as the asset of the city must be preserved. 

The development, being accelerated, must not ignore and eventually lose the river as the asset and the traditional Malay kampong, with their unique features that have been able to promote the close rapport and goodwill among the people. 

The people may no longer bathe near the river banks or use the river for transportation like before  but the river must remain as part of the environment of the kampong or the city as a whole.

The old architecture from the cultures of the Chinese and Malays, who had been living together harmoniously for hundreds of years, must be preserved, in order to preserve the aura that  Kuching, no matter how much it is being  modernized, still has its tradition and origin.   

Old Post Office and Plaza Merdeka

Obviously, the city has been growing because of business activities, which have become its nerve and lifeline for expansion.  However, it will not be a healthy development if the city  only depicts business activities as the main feature to such an extent that the people do not show the feeling of being close and friendly toward each other; they have the attitude of being indifferent towards each other. 

Admittedly Kuching city  is not best shopping centre in the world and business and shopping is not what attract the people to the city but its overall pleasant environment. More importantly, it has the heritage and history that  can be traced back to more than hundreds of years ago.

The city has a certain legacy, which is the people must endeavor to preserve and perpetuate for the future generations. Understandably, one of the reason the State government decided to upgrade Kuching to become a city was to provide the efficient administration for the preservation of its heritage and history.  

Arguably, the thriving atmosphere of commerce could only be merged in areas within the jurisdication of Kuching city south, and not in the North, which has the relax and happy atmosphere. For this reason, Kuching city North and Kuching city South must work together in carrying out development without discarding historical,  social elements and humanistic features in the greater Kuching city. 

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, during a speech in launching DBKU agenda, believed  it  had the potential to become the platform to promote unity and solidarity among the various ethnic groups in the State.  The agenda reflected the commitment, the concerned and pledge of DBKU to penetrate the livelihood of the people, those who really need  its servics in particular.

Understandably, DBKU has planned a number of programs to implement the programs as best as it could for the benefits of the people. In this connection, all levels of  society, government agencies and the private sector must co-operate fully with DBKU towards realizing the goals of its development programs. 

Basically, conscientious efforts must be made avoid making Kuching to become a city without the soul like other cities that develop very fast and with the emphasis on doing business only.  

For this reason, the State government has decided to gazette an area as a legacy square of Kuching city  in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Merdeka  celebration.The permanent vision was based on the development achievement along the waterfront whether in the South or North of the city. 

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said the Legacy square is a way to remind the people there is something precious about the city that can be found in trees, buildings, roads, public facilities, whether shopping malls or bazaars; they are somehing much more subtle without too much mundane of commercial reference or busy lifestyle of the people.

He said the legacy square concept is not only trying to show the beautiful and charm  of Kuching but also to  generate activities right in the middle of the city. It will also generate   greenery and lots of surrounding activities that can attract interests of the people from all walks of life. 

The 10 - year plan to develop the Legacy Square will give time  how Kuching is being develo0ped from a slow going, gentle and friendly place to become a city with thriving and happy environment.

Then the people will flock together in business centre that is more personal than material in nature. Undoubtedly, the development of the city has succeeded in transforming Sungei Sarawak to become an importantly feature of the city. 

Satok Area

There is a beautiful river, a large span of green land, lots of beautiful buildings, old shop houses and many landmarks, which date back at least 100 years.  This is what Kuching is like. It is old but growing forever young in another way.

The Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, in his speech during the Goodwill night organised by the Community Association of India Street last Wednesday night said  Kuching has grown from a small town, combining traditional Malay kampong with Chinese shop houses with lots of boats in the river. Now it is consisting of the same population but the changing physical environment.

For example, the city from the old style of physical growth now has shopping centres as good as in other cities in Malaysia.  The environment like Padang Merdeka, roads and bridges, flyovers, mosques, churches, temples all get renewal while preserving the aura of the multi -racial city with friendly residents from both sides of the rivers.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said the population, which used to comprise of Chinese and Malays only, now also has more and more Ibans, Bidayuhs, Orang Ulu  and other ethnic groups that are coming to the city to share the responsibility of  running the government and  manning the business and industries, which are increasing reflecting the co-operation of all races in the  society. 

He believes Kuching city, no matter how much it is being modernized, will still keep the feelings among the people that it still has the tradition and origin to bring them to the midst of history, which is quite enlightening.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said he has often been asked how did it come about that Sarawak, at one time, had got a white Rajah? His answer was it came about because of the pirates.  When the pirates became too many along the coasts of Sarawak, one adventurous British sailor came and fought them.

His efforts to restore peace to the coastal people made him to be elevated to become the White Rajah.  That was the day and time Sarawak did not have sufficient power to defend itself from the marauding pirates. 

But today, Sarawak, as a big part of the nation Malaysia, is fully equipped to look after its air space and territorial waters.   Besides, history can still be seen in the way that the State is being developed; the people come together hand in hand to beautify the towns and cities throughout the State.

For example, the Datuk Bandar of City hall of Kuching North has become a mayor of Chinese as well as Malay areas.  He is being assisted by qualified Non Bumiputra officers to administer the city that has got multi  - facetted identity.

He is responsible to look after Chinese town surrounded by Malay kampong. It is not easy to find such a situation elsewhere in Malaysia. It is God’s creation for the people comprising of various ethnics and religious groups to come together as can be reflected on what Kuching city is to the people, visitors in particular.

Admittedly, the people in Kuching city during the last few years were not as close as they used to be but today they have been trying to get closer together again.  This is a good sign.   

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib believed that Kuching, in spite of its massive development, will be able to retain the centre, which will be rich in history and vibrant in commercial and modern activities.  The people will still be tied to the history and the past of Kuching. This is something seldom seen in any cities that are progressive all over the world.

A lot of them have lost their past because they are becoming too crowded and their activities become too fast with the dominant of commerce without giving the security of the people.

He said the city must provide security to the people to enable them amble around in the luxury of elective environment so that they can see each other in the shopping area and along the water fronts, which are getting more pleasant and beautiful for the local people and visitors to enjoy.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said the social and cultural activities are still lacking if the people walk from Hilton hotel at Bukit Mata Kuching to Ban Hock wharf, which are as good as any places in cities, which have riverfronts; they clean and beautiful. 

He believed that the people in India street could play active roles in getting the activities to come up in keeping with the glamour and mixture of people doing their shopping in the street.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib believed the people along Gambier road would become recipients of benefits of changes that would come up.  He suggested that they should study the tastes of new shoppers,   who will probably buy more sophisticated things like hand bags or shoes   or any other things. 

Basically, they must recognize changes taking place in their midst and adjust themselves accordingly. Eventually, the local people will start to congregate all over the centre of Kuching and improve the identity of Gambier Street. Unavoidably, they improve the way they do business as a way to enhance the beauty of the city and reflect their pride in its progress and advancement.

His Excellency called on the people, regardless of their ethnic and religious groups to continue to play their roles in a pleasant way ensure that material progress will bring about spiritual and social changes in a more generous degree from what has been inherited from the past.

For example, the change of Kuching from the old conservative town, with all its tradition,  to become the mixture of the old and the new city, could start from India Street, the friendly place, to become the bustling shopping area. May the people of India Street and surrounding areas prepare this evolution of Kuching to become the mixture of the old and new city of modern Sarawak.

Sarawak Monitor
1st April 2015