Friday, October 9, 2015

Federal-State relationship must be conducted in spirit of mutual trust

The much talked about Pan Borneo Highway, to stretch the whole length and breadth of Sarawak, mainly in rural areas from Sematan to Lawas, with a total length of more than 1,000 KM, is the biggest single infrastructure project to be undertaken in Sarawak for which the people should truly be grateful to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak for approving it.

The Prime Minister, in honoring his election promise to deliver Pan Borneo Highway to the people of Sarawak, launched the project on March 31, 2015. It is a well-planned and extensive highway networks that can help to change the economic landscape and accelerate the economic growth for the State.

The Pan Borneo Highway, like the Federal highways in Peninsular Malaysia, is being needed to improve the mobility of people and transportation of goods efficiently from one point to another.  More importantly, it will help to integrate and transform the economy of Sarawak towards the year 2020 and beyond. .

Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Adenan Satem, in his 2015 budget speech said the people in Sarawak have been waiting for the development of Pan Borneo Highway as they believe it will bring about significant socio-economic progress to the State as can be seen from the impact of highways in Peninsular Malaysia; they do not want to be left behind any longer. 

Generally, the people believe it is never too late for Sarawak to have the highway. The people, comprising about 30 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups welcome Pan Borneo Highway with open arm. They look at the overall picture what it will do to transform Sarawak’s economy from agro-based to industrial- based economy.

He said the Prime Minister, with full understanding of the desire of the local people for Sarawak's companies to participate in the development of Pan Borneo highway project, is also committed to ensure that the project main contractor appoints local contractors to undertake the job.

The highway, when completed within the period of eight years, will not impose any toll on road users.  It will have tremendous impact in the overall efforts to transform rural areas towards the year 2030 with the state own agenda to become the most prosperous state in Malaysia.

The construction and completion of Pan Borneo Highway will further strengthen the existing transportation network and logistics system and help to integrate the rural and urban economies especially in the movement of goods and people. 

This will help to reduce the costs of transportation resulting in lower costs of doing business and make Sarawak to become a more competitive place to do business in the country.

The highway will be built on land, which may belong to people.  As a matter of policy, the Government will pay compensation to people, whose lands are being used for the purpose; compensation has been provided for.  This has been the practice for many years; compensation will be paid to people, who deserve it.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan, said the Federal Government has allocated some money for the purpose. The land owners, who lands will be acquired for the development of the highway, will be paid appropriate compensation. 

He said the federal government has also agreed to provide funding to improve and undertake the construction of logging roads in the remote areas under the Jiwa Murni projects. The Minister of Defense, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, in a letter to him, said the Federal Government would undertake to improve the timber roads, provided the State Government would pay the maintenance after three years.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan pledged to use the Immigration power judiciously to cordon the sanctity of the State from religious extremists of any faiths to come to Sarawak, which   is well known for religious tolerance and racial harmony. The various ethnic groups have co-existed peacefully and have high respect of each other’s religion, culture and tradition.

The State government has the primary responsibility to safeguard the unity and the solidarity of the people, who must continue to live together to enjoy the prosperity in the State. The tradition of living in peace in spite of diversity must be preserved as a unique characteristic of Sarawak as an example for others to follow. 

The State is being blessed with many races with Malay/Melanau in the majority. The others include Chinese, Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu and other Dayak groups, who have the tradition of living in peace and harmony together.  All of them realize that Sarawak is big enough for everybody. 

The racial and religious polarization, which is rearing its ugly head in Peninsular Malaysia,  is not healthy and must be kept out of  Sarawak.  It is within the State’s power, with the Immigration autonomy, to exclude or permit people to enter Sarawak including fellow Malaysians.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the State Government, being led by him as the previous Government, would zealously protect the State’s autonomy in the federation.  It would go back to the constitution to settle matters and with regard to Sarawak as a partner in the formation of Malaysia. There could be no alteration of the boundaries of Sarawak without the consent of the State to be expressed by a law to be passed by this august House as required by Article 2.

For example, the policy decisions of the National Land Council and the National Council for Local Government shall not be binding on Sarawak; the national development shall not apply to Sarawak without the concurrence of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, (Article 95E).

He said the rights of the State Government to control the entry and residence in the State by non Sarawakians remain embedded in Article 61E(4). Even if Dewan Rakyat amends the article with a 2/3 majority, it will not be able to abolish the immigration power without the consent of the State. 

This is one of the safeguard or the entrenched provision of the constitution. No amendment shall be made to the Federal Constitution in respect of the executive and legislative powers vested in the State like religion and the special treatment of natives without the concurrence of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri [Article 161E(2) (c) and (d)] on the advice of the Government.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said revenues from the natural resources such as timber royalty, water rates, land or quit rent and premium, which are assigned to the State, cannot be taken away without the concurrence of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri by virtue of Article 161E(2)(c).

He said the Federal-State relationship must be conducted in the spirit of mutual trust and respect for each other's constitutional rights, duties, authorities and powers. It ought to be on a consultative mode and not a confrontational approach so as to promote national harmony, peace, solidarity and stability.

The Federal –State relationship should be on the basis of what is constitutionally defined like the State's rights must not be taken away and the State must be accorded what is due to it as decreed by the Constitution. Therefore, all concerned must take the constitutional position.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said 97 Federal Departments out of the total of 166 are being headed by Sarawakians. The State Government, while acknowledging heads of federal departments from Peninsular Malaysia, who serve the people well and contribute towards the development of Sarawak, would pursue the appointments of more Sarawakians to serve the whole State in the Federal capacity.

The local officers have proven to be very capable of administering the State as Heads of Ministries and Departments. In fact, over the years, Sarawak was fortunate to have outstanding, loyal and dedicated public officers, who had faithfully served the State with distinction.

Sarawak is also being served by the Federal departments and agencies, which have been
established by the Federal Government to serve the Rakyat  and work with the State Departments and agencies in the implementation of Federal development projects.

They provide services such as health care, education, security, issuance of passports, birth and death certificates and others, which the Federal Government is duty bound to provide to the Rakyat in the State. 

The State Government believes it to be a very positive move to appoint more Sarawakians as Heads of Federal Departments and agencies in fostering national integration. Certainly,
such appointments would help to ensure that the Federal departments and agencies could develop a better understanding of the needs, expectations and problems of the Rakyat 

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said human capital and technical training would remain the main agenda of development thrust to spearhead the success of industrialization. It is imperative to prepare and train more people to become skilled workers to meet the need of industries.

In this regards, the State will establish more technical training centers and at the same time, fine tune the quality of existing programs and courses to suit the requirements of industries in various fields namely manufacturing, agriculture and services.

The local people must be able to grab opportunities arising from more investment coming into the State. The industries demand workers that are highly skilled and technically competent. All the employment opportunities must be filled by the local people and not by foreign workers; priority must be given to local people.

He said the State Government will complement efforts of the Federal Government in technical and vocational trainings. In this respect Yayasan Sarawak has been tasked to collaborate with other agencies in spearheading technical trainings in the State.

Datuk Patinngi Adenan, who is also the Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, said the passage of Forest Bill 2015 was the manifestation of the State Government’s resolute commitment to strengthen forest management that takes into account the environment and welfare of the local community. More importantly, the implementation of the law will help to combat and eliminate illegal logging and improve basic management in the world.

Regrettably, the State has been the victim to criticisms regarding the management of the forest by foreign NGOs. They have been quite successful in giving Sarawak a bad name internationally.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the foreign NGOs concerned, if they are truly concerned with the local forest, should come forward to give their views and criticize the State.  A few  reputable ones like Worldwide Life Fund and World Conservation Fund have made initiatives to come forward. 

He suspected that Bruno Manser Fond has its own agenda, which is not forest. Their agenda is someone else. He is not interested in that. He is interested in NGOs whose real concern is the preservation of forest.

Sarawak Monitor
9 October 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Sarawak Government is business friendly

Sarawak’s economy is the third largest in the country and contributing about 10 percent to the National economy. It has good credit ratings to make the State an attractive investment destination in the country. However, the State, with the aspiration to achieve a higher level of progress as has been achieved by Selangor and Klang Valley in Peninsular Malaysia, has to work harder not only to catch up but to move fast towards the year 2020 and beyond.

Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Haji Satem, who is also the Minister of Finance, in his first budget speech, pledged to accelerate the pace of development and progress with the determination to achieve high income and developed State by 2020 so all Sarawakians could enjoy success.  No Sarawakians should be left out in this matter. The joy and fruits of success are meant for all of the people irrespective of locality, race and religion.

Being the biggest State, which is still lagging behind in terms of infrastructure development especially in the rural areas, there are still more works that need to be done. The problems and challenges are surmountable provided the people comprising about 30 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups will continue to work harder together to overcome them. 

The people, in spite of their differences, must share the same goal for a more progressive and prosperous Sarawak in the journey towards realizing vision 2020 to attain the status of a developed state with high income economy by the year 2020 and beyond. 

In this regards, the people must be focused and not be easily distracted by petty matters as collaboration and teamwork is required from all stakeholders including members of the Opposition, who love to see a peaceful and more progressive and prosperous Sarawak.

The Government, on its part, needs to be bold and creative, with the limited time available, to ensure that programs and projects being implemented must be completed on schedules to benefit the Rakyat.

Basically, the State must implement more development programs and projects as compared to the previous 5-Year Development Plan to accelerate the economic growth and development. The State will work closely with the Federal Government to get more funds for this purpose.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan assured that the State Government, as business friendly Government, will endeavor to encourage the private sector to invest and expand their businesses in all sectors of the economy. It acknowledges the contributions of the private sector in development.

He said the State government will continue to engage with the private sector to understand their needs and provide them with the necessary assistances to ensure the success of their investment. In this symbiotic relationship, the success of the private sector is also success of the government and the people.

Basically, the State needs a strong private sector as the engine of growth in the development of a strong economy. For example, their investments are critical in creating more new businesses and job opportunities for the Rakyat.

Admittedly, it is a daunting task to attract the private sector to invest in rural areas or expand their businesses to smaller towns before the basic infrastructure like roads could be put in place to provide accessibility and connectivity to these areas.

Besides, the development of critical mass is a prerequisite to the development of rural areas where the market is very small and the purchasing power of the people is also very small.  Logically, the private sector should not only confine their investment to urban areas, in major towns or cities as they should also help to spread economic development to the rural people.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan assured that the State Government will provide the necessary enablers including basic infrastructure such as roads, water and electricity in smaller towns to ensure the viability of investments by the private sector in such areas. In this regards, the frontline agencies at the divisional and district levels will be advised to facilitate such investments.

 The State government will be focusing on the development of the rural sector, which is the last frontier in the development agenda, as almost half of population are residing in settlements scattered in rural areas. By and large, they are still lagging behind in various fields of development especially in basic infrastructure and access to education and health facilities.

The provision of basic infrastructure in rural areas is critical as the rakyat deserves to be provided with the amenities and utilities that are already available in urban areas in addressing issues such as income disparity, poverty and rural - urban migration.

For example, the penetration of electricity may be 70% or 80% and treated water, about 60% to 70%. But the penetration is confined to urban areas. So there are still big areas to cover in connecting water and electricity supplies to rural areas. 

Understandably basic infrastructure is so dear to the hearts of rural folks. For example, the provision of electricity supply from the grid will enable the households to use refrigerator.  Their children could use computer not just for studies but to access job opportunities that are now mostly being offered online. The provision of treated water supply is important to improve their health by reducing the possibility to be affected by water borne diseases.

 The Rakyat, with road connectivity, will have easier access to schools, clinics and other public services available in the nearest towns. It is heartening to hear cases where parents still rely on rivers to send their children to school or seek treatment from the nearest clinics, which can be many miles away. Besides, some schools and clinics are in poor conditions and having general lack of facilities. 

The Government is focusing on rural transformation program that encompasses various components such as basic infrastructure, socio-economic program, development of new towns and service centers by the private sector and the development of human capital as a key thrust of development agenda, which is holistic in nature.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said Samalaju Industrial Park will be further developed to attract more investors to develop trigger industries in the overall efforts to develop more downstream industries for the benefits of medium and small entrepreneurs.

The future development of SMEs, in developing economy like ours, is being emphasized as they do not only provide supporting services to bigger companies but also create jobs for the rakyat.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan encouraged bigger companies to compete internationally to capture bigger market for their products in the overall efforts to create a vibrant economy for Sarawak towards the year 2020 and beyond.

For example, the trigger industries like aluminum smelting, ferro alloy and polycrystalline silicon, now in operation, are supplying raw materials or semi-finished products that meet the demand of the global supply chain. The successful operation of Samalaju Industrial Park  has positioned Sarawak strategically on the global investment map.

Generally, Datuk Patinggi Adenan is happy with the progress SCORE, which is a clear manifestation of the State’s ability to attract investors and meet their needs.  The State, with the establishment of trigger industries, is now in a better position to attract more downstream industries, which are involved in higher value added activities that can generate good paying jobs for people. Eventually, they will be able to develop industrial clusters towards the year 2020.

It must be understood that Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), as a regional development plan, is not just for the development of heavy industries in Samalaju Industrial Park or the agro-based industries in Tanjung Manis Halal Hub but the development of the hinterland such as Murum, Tunoh, Baram and Balleh.

The road to Murum Hydro Electric Power provides good connectivity to the people in those areas. More importantly the affected communities have been resettled in places that provide better living conditions than what their used to have in their previous settlements.

Basically, they are enjoying better housing, health and education facilities and having access to electricity and water supplies.  Besides, many development programs are already in place for the affected communities to increase their income and enjoy better livelihood.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the State government and PETRONAS have agreed to work on five key areas of cooperation to enable Sarawak’s participation in the oil and gas industry namely in natural gas supply for both power and non power sectors, human resource, education and technical training, contracts and business opportunities, equity and royalty and corporate social responsibility.

He believed that the five key areas of cooperation will create the optimal impact to accelerate Sarawak’s socio-economic development and improvement in the livelihood of the
Rakyat.  Sarawak wants to be a participant in the oil and gas industry and does not contend simply to be expected data while people take away the gas and oil. The State wants to have meaningful participation in the development of the industry.

The initial response from PETRONAS is to allocate 10.0% equity in the MLNG Plant Train 9 in addition to the current 5.0% equity in LNG1 and 10.0% each in LNG2 and LNG3. The State has to pay for it but this is a sure fire project that will yield income four or five years later.

PETRONAS has agreed to allocate 280 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas to power and non-power sectors to produce electricity and other purposes.

PETRONAS has also agreed to allocate a base line value of RM2.1 billion worth of contracts, which will be increased each year, to Sarawak companies. The companies must be Sarawak owned with directorship and shareholdings are all Sarawakians.

PETRONAS will set up offices in Kuching, Bintulu and Miri to deal with licensing and contractual matters, organize licensing and tendering clinics and allow contractors registered with the State’s Unit Pendaftaran Kontraktor (UPK) to participate in tenders subject to PETRONAS requirement.

PETRONAS undertakes to spend RM420 million for capital and operating expenditures on education and technical skills trainings during a period of about five years..

PETRONAS will also spend a minimum of RM50 million over five years as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on community projects, emergency aids and environmental programs. PETRONAS will work with the State Government to identify suitable CSR projects.

Datuk Patinggi Adenan assured that the State, though it has been quite successful in eradicating poverty, would not be complacent as there are still pockets of poverty in rural areas and rising level of poverty in urban areas, as manifested by the emergence of slumps, is a concerned to the Government.

The problems of rising level of poverty in urban areas, if not if not properly addressed, could lead to more social problems in the state. Hence, efforts to address poverty will remain one of the top agenda in the development thrusts.

At one time more than 50 % of the population was in absolute poverty. Now, of course the rate has been reduced to a single digit number.  The State needs to be more creative and innovative in marshalling resources to ensure that all the programs and projects being implemented will benefit the targeted poor.

Sarawak Monitor
7 October 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Rakyat as centre theme of development planning

Sarawak, a large state with small and scattered population, has witnessed massive socio-economic transformation in the last three decades for the period 1981 to 2014. Understandably, the population, comprising about 30 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups, must be brought into the mainstream of development as the prerequisite for state’s prosperity.

However, the State’s large geographical areas pose a great challenge in the process, for example, the development of land connectivity. For this reason, the State government, since the 80s, has given priority to the development of roads, bridges, ports and airports.

Though the development of infrastructural connectivity is a federal responsibility the State government has been expending funds from its own coffer for the purpose. Hence, the State has been able to increase the road length by four times from 4,713 km in 1980 to 18,285 km in 2010.

Generally, the provision of basic utilities is great challenge in view of the State’s scattered population where the people are living in more than 5,000 settlements, which are scattered in small groups over a big area.

The State has managed to increase electricity supply coverage from 34% in 1980 to 83% in 2010. Meanwhile, water supply coverage has increased from 32% to 79% during the same period.  

The Governor, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, who served as the fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak from March 26, 1981 to February 28, 2013, introduced the philosophy of the Politics of Development with the overriding principle to create equality and socio-economic justice.  It was also to marshal the political will among the people to focus more on development. 

He wanted Sarawakians of different ethnic groups with diverse culture and religions to be able to live in peace, unity and harmony among them. The ultimate objective is to achieve social harmony and unity among the people, political stability and economic prosperity as they have been contributing immensely towards the successful development of Sarawak.

The centre theme of Tun Abdul Taib’s development planning was the Rakyat to ensure that whatever development programs being carried out must ultimately benefit the rakyat, whose interests are paramount in discharging the Government’s responsibilities. This is consistent with its policy of inclusiveness in development.

For example, the National Eleventh Plan has been formulated based on six (6) strategic thrusts namely enhancing inclusiveness, improving well-being, harnessing talent,  pursuing green growth, strengthening the foundation for expansion and re-engineering economic growth.

The rakyat are the centre of every development program being planned for the State and country.  More importantly, he wanted the rakyat to understand, support and participate in the implementation any development programs and projects being carried out in their areas.

His ultimate goal was for Sarawak to be developed at par with other States in Peninsular Malaysia, which started development six years ahead of the State. Obviously, the State needed to quantum leap in development efforts in order to catch up with the development and progress in Peninsular Malaysia.

The State Government, being led by his successor, Datuk Patinggi Adenan Haji Satem is implementing a long-term development plan known as Sarawak Socio-Economic Transformation Plan (SETP) to develop a better future for Sarawak. SETP is a comprehensive, integrated and balanced plan with the primary objectives to accelerate income growth and reduce income disparity.

SETP, which covers a period of 25 years from 2016 until 2030 with an estimated allocation of about RM180 billion,will be carried out in phases. The first phase from 2016 until 2020 will be implemented under the Eleventh Plan.

Tun Abdul Taib’s big plan to develop Sarawak was not only to catch up with the national development but to move forward. It is being encapsulated in the SCORE Development Plan, which he is confident of success because the State has the necessary resources especially in terms of energy potentials needed to drive development.

Sarawak has potential to generate 20,000 megawatt of power from hydro, another 5,000 megawatt from coal fired generating plants and probably 3,000 megawatts from other forms of energy such as bio fuel in the longer term.

The State government’s decision to build hydroelectricity dam in a certain area is to bring total development to it for the benefits of the people and definitely not as an exercise to generate energy only. Regrettably, some foreign NGOs including members of the local opposition tend to think of it merely to generate energy and the State is in danger of having excess of energy. 

For example, the State government has decided to build hydro electricity dams each in Ulu Kapit and Ulu Baram because both areas have small populations with the able bodied people having the tendency to migrate to towns and cities to look for employment and business opportunities.  Only the old people and children of ages 12 or 13 are being left behind.

Both Ulu Baram and Ulu Kapit, are at risk of being left undeveloped as, for example, there is no justification to build roads, which is very costly, to both areas. Only the development of mega projects like the hydro dams justifies such development. Besides, the principle of the natural economic priority is not to allow people to drift to towns, where the Government cannot do anything to arrest the loss of educated people from rural areas

The SCORE development area, which stretches from Samalaju in the North to Tanjung Manis in the South, represents a third of the total land size of Sarawak. The first three nodes being developed under the SCORE development program focuses on agricultural based development with the branding of Tanjung Manis Halal hub. 

The second node Samalaju (formerly tongue twistingSamilajau) focuses on the development of heavy and energy intensive industries, taking into consideration the small population, in the initial years in order to ensure energy consumption to anchor the success of Bakun dam. 

The third growth node, Mukah, in the central region, is being developed as a smart city. It is used to be a small fishing village, like Bintulu before, but by the year 2020, it has been planned to become a smart city, which will incorporate ICT and connectivity with the local culture and environment. 

The State Government must lend ears to the Rakyat in order to engage with them successfully. In this regards, the leaders must listen with an open heart and mind to understand their needs correctly and sincerely. Only then they can deliver the right goods and services to them efficiently.

The State economy, once dependent on the primary sector such as traditional agriculture and timber industries, has been diversified with manufacturing and services sectors.  Industrial development is now spearheading the economic growth, with oil and gas industries play an important role.

In 1980, 58.5% of the total output was contributed by the primary sector namely agriculture and mining and quarrying. Meanwhile, secondary sector comprising manufacturing and construction only contributed 11.3% and the tertiary or services sector contributed 27.2%.

The share of the primary sector was reduced to 33.8% in 2010 while that from the secondary sector increased to 28.8% and the services sector to 36.9%.  The State’s Real GDP had increased five times from RM10.6 billion in 1980 to RM50.8 billion in 2010. The average growth recorded since 1980s was 16% per annum. Meanwhile, the GDP Per Capita has increased eight times from RM4,066 in 1980 to RM33,307 in 2010.         

The State has managed to narrow the development gap between urban and rural areas, through a more balanced development between regions. Rapid urban development started since 1980 and the level of urbanization increased drastically from only 18% in 1980 to more than 53% in 2010.

Sarawak’s poverty level of 31.9% in 1985 was among the highest in the country. The differences among the ethnic groups have also been reduced with more people enjoying the fruit of development irrespective of their ethnic background. However, the State government, through implementing relevant poverty reduction programs managed to reduce the poverty level to 5.3% in 2009. In 2014, the poverty rate is below 1%.

The nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita has increased from RM6,291 in 1985 to RM43,194 in 2014.  Nevertheless, the State government acknowledges that there are many challenges such as uncertainties in the global economy and the needs to develop the domestic economy up the value chain in order to be resilient ahead.

The State needs more concerted efforts to accelerate the economic growth and development in the pursuit to achieve high income and advanced economy by the year 2030.

Obviously, the State must be linked to the rest of the world in the global supply chain. Hence, the State welcomes and encourages industries that are high in value-added and being at the forefront of technological innovation.

The State is actively implementing Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) as a major development initiative to propel Sarawak towards a high-income and advanced economy by 2030. SCORE will promote long term private investment estimated at RM267 billion, which is expected to spearhead the future growth and development of Sarawak.

The presence of private investment especially the Foreign Direct Investment will broaden the prosperity base through the establishment of many high - tech and knowledge-driven industries. It will also create vast business opportunities in term of contract works for the local business community especially for SMEs/SMIs.

It can be anticipated that there will be more high value job opportunities created especially for skilled, semi-skilled for the local people to increase their level of income and improve their standard of living.

Tun Abdul Taib during an interview by Fortune, a London based business magazine, believed the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), envisioned as a single common market and production base ASEAN integration, which will become a reality at the end of the year, will present an opportunity for Sarawak to strengthen its link in the global supply chain.


Understandably, ASEAN Economic Community will be characterized by the free flow of goods, services and investment, a freer flow of financial capital, enhanced connectivity and expanded opportunities for intra-regional labor migration.
Besides, the reduction in tariffs and non-tariff barriers will have implications for intra-regional trade and investment. New opportunities for growth and prosperity are likely to emerge, but the challenge is to ensure that growth is inclusive and prosperity is shared. 
ASEAN Integration is expected to enhance the competitiveness of the region’s business environment, increase the attractiveness to foreign investment and facilitate the establishment of production networks.
Nevertheless, its progress and success will require sustained political will, coordination, capacity building, strengthening of the national and regional institutions and the formulation of sound policy choices.
ASEAN’s population of approximately 600 million people accounts for 8.6 per cent of the total world population to make it one of the major markets for the State’s manufactured products such as timber-based products, palm-oil, pepper and petroleum products. Besides, the region has become the major source of food items especially rice.
The coming into force of ASEAN Economic Community will facilitate freer movement of goods, which can help to strengthen trade with the ASEAN member- countries. It is expected to open up more business opportunities for the local industry players. At the same time it should help to attract more foreign direct investments to the State.
Understandably, the State has decided to make the biggest investment in ports and transportation in Kuching as it is increasingly becoming the capital and the business centre of the State and the gateway for the whole of Kalimantan within the context of ASEAN. 

Sarawak Monitor
2 September 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

Sarawak to push development further into interior

Obviously Sarawak, as a fast developing territory and quite strategically located in the  ASEAN region, must endeavor to adapt to the trend of change in South East Asia towards the formation of the common market, which is getting more integrated with the integration of ASEAN member nations.

Besides, Sarawak is founding state in Malaysia, which is one of original members of ASEAN that has got a good experience in developing a good understanding of the necessity to build a common ASEAN market. For this year, more comprehensive efforts are being made to integrate the market of the original ASEAN member countries and extend it to the new member nations like Kampuchea, Laos and Myanmar.

Hence, Malaysia has been devoting itself towards building a common market, which will serve as the mechanism to create more job opportunities for the people in future.  Obviously, the State or the country has not reached the end of the common struggle towards realizing a shared education system, which could suit the ASEAN market with all its opportunities.

Malaysia, over the years, has gone through the practical experience in overseeing the generation of theoretical efforts in getting regional co-operation in creating more jobs for the people in future.

For this reason, educational efforts must be made continuous, even though the State has many colleges and universities now, as the people must prepare for the future, which is getting more sophisticated in the process of industrialization. The State has narrower economic base because the market is narrow and the workforce, not as big and sophisticated as in Peninsular Malaysia.

The State used to have the top heavy experience where the people were encouraged to  study to get the degree qualifications.   However, it is increasingly obvious that the fields of studies being offered by institutions of higher learning are changing as they have to adapt to the types of development being carried out in the country or spreading out in the region or the world.  

His Excellency the Governor of Sarawak, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, in his speech during the launching of Multi-Million Ringgit Education Fund of United Peoples’ Party, said every time he had the invitation to give support to a movement to promote education in Sarawak, he felt obliged to do so with the realization of the importance of playing roles in preparing the people for their roles in nation building and cope with continuous changes.

Personally, he is very interested to see how the development of education could give greater emphasis on technical education. The State must make a stride in the development   of education that should be adjusted to the new situation in the process of development more so in industrialization towards the year 2020 and beyond.

Generally, the people must realize that the development of Sarawak will go further into the interior because that is where the resources are.  Perhaps the development will a bit slower because it would mean removing the people from their original place of abode. 

However, the people are quite agile and prepared to take up jobs or business opportunities outside their traditional kampong or longhouses.  In the towns, the Chinese will go to other towns and play greater roles than in the past.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said generally Sarawakians are quite enterprising. He has seen Sarawakians doing very well even in Africa; no need to say about other places that have become quite well established.  They have the capacity to open up new areas of activities.  They may start small but will become bigger tomorrow because of their ability to sell, create and even manufacture goods. 

He has great respect for the ability of local entrepreneurs to adjust to the prevailing situation in places they work or operate their businesses. They help to create export market outside to enable Sarawak to have wider areas to co-operate in developing new market in synergy with efforts of building ASEAN integration of market for the future.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib congratulated UPP, which is celebrating its first anniversary, for launching a multi-million Education project, consistent with the importance that the Chinese attached to education.  Hence, any serious political program, particularly among the Chinese, cannot be going without participating in the development of education in the country.

The fact that the party has been able to collect RM30 million is yet another example that local businessmen support efforts for the development of education in the State or country.  The local businessmen, who have donated generously to UPP Education fund, also reflect their confidence in the people, who lead the party, as they have gained vast experience and contributed a lot to the development of education in the State

The President of UPP, Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh has in fact been contributing a lot towards education and making Sibu as the centre of education anybody who wants to undertake educational expansion in future can recruit him even as dotting old man.  He is bringing in the tradition to support education to UPP from SUPP.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said he had to looked up to Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh as a person, with the experience to advise him when he was the Chief Minister in developing educational institution  so that the Government could create effects that benefit  not only Chinese but all races. He has proven himself to be able to do so in Sibu. 

He said continuous efforts must be made to prepare for more managers but greater emphasis must be given to train more people to become technically trained manpower.  He recalled as the Chief Minister he had asked the State Government to give greater emphasis in preparing people for technical education.  Now new schools in Sibu, Miri and Kuching are having elements of trying to prepare people for their roles in industrialization. 

He believed UPP being led by people with experience can contribute a lot to the development of Sarawak in future. UPP has chosen its first project very well.  It has been able to garner the support of all Chinese intellectuals in this venture to play greater roles in preparing Sarawak for industrialization. They   have done very well in the past and there is no reason why they cannot expand the manpower for industries in the form of technically qualified people in future.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, during a separate function to launch a business incubator, believed this kind of training would grow in future as there is a need to bring people to one place to get certain kinds of training from their raw stage in order to understand the market and the various personalities needed to be connected together in starting a business. 

 In the old days, it would be difficult to find sense of comradeship as close as it should be in building a higher institution of learning as a result of the training at the lower level following the diversification of the industrial sector. 

He believed the setting of business incubator would be able to contribute meaningfully towards the overall efforts of business development as avenues for introducing management and business practices to young people.

The people, including those who have acquired tertiary education, who want to be involved in doing business, must realize that the business the world has its own characteristic. It is full of competition as well as full of co-operation.

He said the State has been implementing numerous big projects, which require managers having high qualification and good experience. The State is still in the first stage of pioneering its modern development.

He said development must spread out to nooks and corners of the State to give opportunities to all races regardless of their localities. For this reason, the State has set up a number of businesses especially on timber - based industries and estate development as efforts to diversify the base of the economy. This is the philosophy of development. 

He said Sarawak has been able to spread the ramification for the bigger development to equip whatever business sectors or industries with relevant business management to lend to smaller enterprises to help them to reap benefits from development.

Now the people are still talking about huge investment in Samalaju without realizing that they will create opportunities for smaller companies to produce cheaper supplies of raw materials, semi raw materials and semi industrialized products to become the main focus of new businesses in Sarawak.  The people have yet to see spill - over effects from billions worth of investment by 10 big companies in Samalaju that will benefits smaller enterprises.

Basically, a business needs supporting businesses.   For example,   one big business probably needs a few smaller and medium businesses. In this case, a medium business needs smaller ones in order to diversify activities into areas that are not initially able to compete with bigger firms.

Actually a big business gives greater opportunities for smaller enterprises to give people more opportunities in their businesses. The State is in the midst of seeing such phenomenon in and around Samalaju.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said the timber industry, which has diversified a great deal, has helped to develop people to man not only the export sector  but introduce partners from overseas  mainly in the Far East and eventually Russia and Africa. All the operators started as loggers and operators of transportation to serve the export market.

The State only exports 2% of logs to Europe now. But the State exports expertise like logging firms to AFRICA and slowly participates in the marketing of timber into quite well protected European market.

Sarawak entrepreneurs, who started as loggers, have become international players and get involved more in marketing rather than supply of logs from the hills and forests to the market.  Actually, the State has given birth to a lot of firms, which are diversified in nature.  They have diversified from the old business to greater manufacturing of logs and participation in marketing even outside the country.

The timber operators are penetrating into the society with even the small people getting involved in supplying various materials, construction and training of people to ensure that the total development of industries will be well meant.

The operators have to develop marketing skills further away from the traditional market.   Initially, there were petty timber traders or operators, who were separate from businessmen who provided small services here and there. 

They are taking bigger jobs as contractors, manufacturers of logs from hills now. Generally, they try to diversify market to be able to stand well in any competitions. Now the timber operators are not only doing business in Korea and Taiwan but spreading all the way to Africa, Europe and even the cold Siberia in Russia. 

Generally, the timber industry does not only involve big people but the new ones, who have been trained by the big ones to start their business. These people have to train new people to manage their overseas undertaking besides training some of the local people.  But Initially, there must be a group of small people to be cultivated to continue with the industry nearer to the source or parent companies. 

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said he has seen how small businessmen have grown to become international figures.  They are smarter and surrounded by younger people, who have been trained very well their fields. Besides, there are more people doing smaller jobs with greater harnessing of manpower as proof that the industry is building more people to do a lot of smaller activities because of the growth of the industry and the diversification of activities. 

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said undoubtedly, Sarawak t is quite a different place from what he first saw more than 30 years ago.  Then it was sufficient to talk about timber men. But now there are other things to do to develop Sarawak.  The people have their own vision of what they can do to expand their business not only inside but abroad. 

Generally, the varieties of businesses that have come up grow very fast. They require more people to man their expanding activities. Hence, any efforts to train people, not only in technical but also in management lines at various levels are greatly welcomed as the State moves forward in higher gears in development. Obviously, there are great opportunities for young people and the institutions of learning to play in the further development of Sarawak for the future.  

Sarawak Monitor
28 August 2015