Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tun Abdul Taib was a leader ahead of his time

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. 

 Sarawak Monitor 
16 October 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Concept of Malaysia accords special conditions for Sarawak, Sabah

Just after the Second World War there were different threats and events with the emergence of two big powers. The world slowly moved into opposite directions to become two poles with the Russia and China on one side and the victors of the Second World War namely Britain and other Western Allies being led by USA on the opposite pole. Both Russia and China were extremely leftist in their ideology and trying not to be dependent on the ex- colonial powers.

Britain and other colonial powers wanted to ensure that most of their dependent territories would be able to achieve some forms of self-government and contribute towards peace after the Second World War.  By then, the people had already learned hat the victors should not try to exploit the vanquished and punish them as they did with Germany because that would lead to another fight or war.

Generally, the world has learnt, after two world wars, to become more concerned about building a global peace.  For example, USA started to think of what to do with the Japan after its massive destruction and defeat. The Americans decided to nurse Japan so that it could become a respectable force in Asia.

A new government emerged through armed revolution led by the Communists against the archaic government, which had not been able to adjust itself to the changing situation.   The Communists tried to build a new country based on the ideology of equality and prosperity for ordinary men, which caught the imagination of the masses.   Next to China are Vietnam and Russia, which were very friendly to each other. 

The rest of the world watched the emergence of two camps of world powers with lots of anxiety and worries.  The USA, which considered itself the policeman of the World, was particularly very worried about the new geo-political landscape.  
As a consequence, South East Asia Treaty Organization or SEATO was formed with the objective to rally all the forces that were not with the communists and contain the spread of the domino forces throughout Asia. Then it was the motivating factor to look at the situation of the world in Asia at that time.   The Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah, then still British colonies, were part of this jigsaw puzzle.

By then the Colonial powers had to accept the fact that they could no longer keep their Colonies intact.  They had to put together a new security arrangement for them. In this regard, they must prepare their colonies to look after themselves and build their own future. It was a matter of releasing them properly not in haphazard manner. 

For example, the British, after giving up India and giving Independence to Burma, had to work out plans how Malaya and the Borneo territories could find places in the new Independent world.

Then the Federation of Malaya had the problems arising from attempts to form the government that would reflect the aspiration of the left. Of course, such government would not be in the interest of the people of Malaya. Hence, a long drawn out struggle, in the form of the struggle to contain the communist guerrillas came up immediately after the Second World War all the way to 1959.  Malaya became a success in defeating the communists.  It was a model for the British to tackle other colonial territories.   

SIGNATORIES: The Malaysia Agreement was signed by (from second left) Dato Abang Haji Openg, Tun Jugah, Dato Bandar Abang Mustapa, and P.E.H. Pike (not pictured) in London on July 12, 1963.

In the Federation of Malaya, everybody welcomed the formation of the federation of Malaya.   It was a simple nationalism based on common interests.  But in the case of Sarawak and Sabah, such idea was not obvious to the common people, who did not know the intrigues of the world surrounding them. Nevertheless, there was a suggestion to have a federation of Sarawak, Sabah and Brunei but it could never take off.

Understandably, the British did not know what to do with Sarawak and Sabah as each of them could not go on its own.  Both territories each had small population, to become a nation on its own, build its own defense and tackle all security problems that they could face ahead of them. More importantly, they had to be conscious of building the nation and developing the economy in order to become viable nations. 

Understandably, many formulas were tossed around to find out what to do with Sarawak and Sabah.   The solution became more urgent with the victory of the Socialists, which were viewed as representing the leftist movement, in Singapore in 1959.  Then Singapore, with the strong presence of the socialists under the umbrella of the Socialists Front, was dubbed as Cuba of the East.

Basically, the solution must represent a move to find better consolidation and security for all small countries to enable them, as ex – colonies after Independence, to have their own places under the sun.  

Presumably, during a conference in Singapore in 1961, the British, the Tunku and Lee Kwan Yew must have talked about a proposal to form a bigger federation to include Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei and Singapore. This prompted the Tunku, when speaking during a luncheon organized by Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Singapore, to talk about a proposal to form a bigger federation to include Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei and Singapore.

The concept of a bigger federation caught the imagination of the people in Sarawak that plunged them into discussions about their future in the new Federation. As a consequence, the Cobbold commission was appointed to see what the peoples of Sarawak and Sabah really wanted. 

The net result was that the peoples of Sarawak and Sabah wanted to be parts of a bigger federation with conditions that their interests would be looked after and their peculiarities would be taken into consideration.  

As a consequence, discussions to form a bigger federation took place in London between representatives of the Colonial power and those from Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah.  Admittedly, it was a strange concept as it had to preserve the federation of Malaya intact and Singapore with its internal problems would not upset other parts of the bigger federation.

Besides, Sarawak and Sabah, each thought of how to protect themselves from many disadvantages that they could see if they were to become parts of the bigger Federation; they wanted safeguards for their rights and peculiarities. Obviously, right from the beginning, the concept of forming a bigger federation, comprising of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah was mooted with the idea of having special conditions for the new territories.

Understandably, the people of Sarawak, a territory with small population, did not want to be swarmed by herds of people, who were likely to be unemployed coming over from Malaya or Singapore. Sabah, with fewer controversies, did not face many problems. However, there were a lot of debates in Sarawak on what the people would get as a partner of the bigger Federation.

 At the same time, there was political turmoil in South East Asia with Indonesia witnessing the rise of a communist party to become the biggest party in Indonesia; it was the biggest communist party outside China. The Chairman, D.N. Aidit was influential in Indonesia.

President Sukarno had to play the balancing act, one time siding with the Nationalists and on another time siding with the communist forces.    The internal struggle gave the unsettling atmosphere to the neighbors. He considered the proposal to form Malaysia a Colonial plot and opposed it.

There were series of discussions, mainly engineered by the Philippines to make it possible for Malaya represented by Tunku Abdul Rahman and Sukarno to find out a way to get the new concept of Malaysia to come into being.

President Sukarno insisted that he would withdraw his opposition to the formation of Malaysia if he could be convinced that the peoples of Sarawak and Sabah supported it.  Their decision to support the formation of Malaysia must be confirmed in the next general elections to be held in Sarawak and Sabah.  

The Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, in his recent speech during a seminar on the Formation of Malaysia, organized by the Prime Minister’s department, said  the birth of Malaysia was surrounded by a lot of opposition and suspicions by the surrounding neighbors. This went on for quite some time until the communists’ problem in Indonesia was tackled in 1966.

His Excellency, who could witness the conflicts of geo political factors surrounding the birth of Malaysia, said the people in Sarawak must remember the role being played by the older generation in fighting for survival, though it was not so obvious from outside.  

The State had to fight the internal communist insurgencies, quiet at first hitting haphazardly here and there, but increasingly violent over the years. By 1965, the communists realizing that they could no longer control a political party as an open front went underground to pursue armed insurrection. Therefore, Sarawak was not only being confronted by the big neighbor but it was facing the internal problems of communist subversion.

His Excellency said Sarawak had become successful as part of Malaysia due to the strong determination of the people to defend it against forces both from inside and outside.  The people, in spite of their diversities, could demonstrate they had the gut and will power to defend themselves, the State and country. They had the determination to fight against the communists though they had certain support among the people, who must be won over by developmental programs.

His Excellency said Sarawak, right from the very beginning, insisted that it must have the development plans as part of the National development plan. It sought assurance of sufficient support from the Federal government to ensure that it could develop to become an equal partner in the new federation. The continuous struggle for nation building must be carried out by all people.  

He is happy that Sarawak has been successful in uniting the people, in spite of the fact that SUPP, as the first political party, was only formed in 1959. It was followed by Negara in 1960 and Berjasa in 1961.  SNAP was formed in 1960 and Pesaka, later. This made Sarawak as the first country in the world to organize politics after Independence rather than as the preparation for Independence.

 In a way, this was good because it spared Sarawak from the dangers and mistakes that could be committed by the wrong types of leadership, which lack of wisdom and experience in running the country.

Admittedly, the British helped the State to ensure that it did not commit too many mistakes with all the inexperience and rawness of local leaders in its administration. This was quite obvious in the first six months of Independence. Then politics was not stable; there were in- fighting in the ruling parties.  

Sarawak formed a coalition government that became the basis of political stability after the 1969/ 1970 general elections. The National election had to be abandoned in May 1969 after racial riots in the Federal capital. It was resumed with staggered polling for three weeks in Sarawak in June 1970.

He praised all leaders whether they represented Malays, Ibans, Bidayuhs, Orang Ulu or Chinese then, for their determination to forge a strong unity to form the government, which had been proven to be viable in spite of the fact it had to tackle problems, which generally were slightly different from the rest of the country, in terms of development and security.

His Excellency is happy to see that no nooks and corners of Sarawak are being neglected in development. Even Baleh in Ulu Kapit, which used to be inaccessible and isolated, has some components of development being introduced into it.  

He believed the opposition to Malaysia, unlike in the early days, is not serious. Nobody wants Sarawak to get out of Malaysia; everybody wants to stay because they have acquired good experience in uniting people and getting them to work together in the continuous struggle of nation building.

As Sarawak celebrates 51th anniversary of Independence in Malaysia, it is actually on the pedestal of not only being able to intensify development but play a more significant role in contributing towards the betterment of Malaysia as a whole. 

Sarawak Monitor 

September 30, 2014


Friday, August 29, 2014

Tun Dr. Mahathir says Sarawak develops fast under Abdul Taib

His Excellency, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud,  as the fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak had a warm and cordial working relationship with Tun Dr.  Mahathir Mohamed, then Dato Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed the fourth Prime Minister of  Malaysia from 1981 to 2003.

He was the longest serving Prime Minister of Malaysia and still has a sharp mind and sharp tongue in his criticisms of the government’s development policies and programs that he disagrees with.

With this in mind, a team of local writers were dispatched to get his views on the leadership of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib as a politician and leader, who has  led the state for 33 years.

The writers met Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed in his office at Yayasan Perdana in Putrajaya last July. Though he was fasting he was gracious enough to grant the interview and gave whatever the writers wanted to know from him.  (The  edited text of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed’s interview will be published in a coffee table book being published by the State government to depict Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s 33 years as the Chief Minister of Sarawak. )

Sarawak, with a total land area of 124, 450  Sg. KM, which is almost the size of England, is Malaysia’s largest state by a considerable margin.   However, with a population of about 2.5 million, it is also the most sparsely populated state. It is a  land of rugged mountains, mighty rivers, mangrove forests, white sandy beaches and pristine islands.

Though, the State  has a good network of roads of various  grades with a total length of about 30,000 KM,  its 66 major rivers and hundreds of tributaries  remain important for transport for the people.

Sarawak, as a state in Malaysia, enjoys a measure of political autonomy in the form of self - governing parliamentary democracy, independent legal system, strong institutions and a professional civil service  headed by a State Secretary. English is very widely spoken by the people.

The State  enjoyed unparallelled racial harmony, political stability and progress and prosperity under Pehin Sri Abdul Abdul Taib. His politics of development  as the philosophy of development has helped to chang the midset of the people and transform  Sarawak into an open, dynamic and business friendly economy.      


Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed started by saying he first met Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib in New York while attending the UN General Assembly in 1965. Both of them were  delegates; usually the government sends Members of Parliament as delegates to UN General Assembly.

He said it was memorable time for them in New York while  attending the UN General Assembly. Abdul Taib’s father-in-law was also in New York at that time. They  were together quite a lot and got to know each other well.  He was with Abdul Taib most of the time.

He met Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib (then young Abdul Taib as a local politician) before the meeting in New York  but not so well.  His first impression of Abdul Taib was, he was very active and interested in many things. Of course, he was very dedicated to the development of Malaysia, Sarawak in particular.  

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed said when he became the Prime Minister, Pehin Sri Abdul Taib served briefly  in his Cabinet as the Minister of Federal Territories. He  had to resign his Federal post, after serving for more than 13 years, to come back to helm the State government .

Before the appointment, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib (then Datuk Amar Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud) had to contest a by-election and appointed a State Minister before he assumed the appointment of the fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak on March 26, 1981.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed observed that Sarawak under the leadership of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib developed very fast, the whole of Sarawak, not just Kuching, Sibu, Miri, Bintulu and others.  He had this scheme of building Dewan Suarah or civic centres, to encourage the people to interact among them, throughout Sarawak.

Generally, there has been a distinct change since Pehin Sri Abdul Taib became the Chief Minister.  He was very focused on developing Sarawak.  Fortunately, for him, with the oil royalty he had money to do a lot of things in terms of the development of Sarawak.

He had to contruct roads and build bridges, some very long and costly bridges over big rivers like Santubong,  Batang Igan, Pakan, Batang Kemena and Kuala Baram bridges in order to make more coastal and remote areas in the hinterlands of Ulu Kapit,  Ulu Belaga, Ulu Baram and Ulu Limbang accessible by roads.

He brought a lot of development to Sarawak that some areas, which used to be mushy back in the 70s and early 80s,  have been transformed to become built - up areas with settlements.

As the Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed used to come to Sarawak fairly often. No matter which parts of Sarawak he visited, Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib would be there with him. The occasions provided them opportunities to strategize and further plan for  the development of Sarawak towards the year 2020 and beyond.

It was quite obvious to Tun Dr. Mahathir that Pehin Sri Abdul Taib wanted Sarawak  not only to catch up but move in tandem with the development and progress of Semenajung Malaysia, which started its development six years earlier.   

He wanted  to make Sarawak as developed as the Peninsular Malaysia in terms of infrastructure  development and investments of the revenue from the shares of oil royalty.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed recalled  how Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib was concerned with the future development of Sarawak or how Sarawak could sustain its development  after attaining the  status of high income economy on or before 2020 and beyond.

He had to initiate the industrialisation programme  through the development  of vast hydro potential, which was of course very expensive. However, it has to be done to sustain the development of Sarawak. That was how they came to agree  on the development of Bakun hydroelectricity dam, a mammoth project, as the pre-requisite for industrialisation.

Undoubtedly,  the development of Bakun hydro dam, which was badly affected by the 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis, has triggered the development of a much bigger industrialisation program in the form of the development of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE).

It was obvious to Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed that Pehin Sri Abdul Taib has laid a strong foundation, in term of direction in particular, for the development and progress of Sarawak  much more than any other leaders.

He has spent the the State’s money wisely as evidenced by how he has  been developing Sarawak. He has lifted Sarawak from the back water of development to become one of the fastest development states in the country.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed observes that Sarawak has done extremely well in development. At one stage it was way ahead as compared to the other states including Sabah, which under Tan Sri Harris Salleh as the Chief Minister developed very fast.  But Sarawak under Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib was able to catch up and moved ahead.

Tun Dr. Mahathir says Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib has remarkable grasp of things like understanding of the workings of the government. His dedication to Sarawak is total. Sometimes, the Federal leadership felt uncomfortable when he appeared to be too much of a Sarawakian and forgot about the country.

However, as a whole he has been very supportive of Malaysia and the Federal leadership most of who are from Peninsular Malaysia.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mahathir said he had no difficulty working with Tun Pehin  Sri Abdul Taib. He worked well with him. During his time, they were very much together and could achieve the objectives both for Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.
Tun Dr. Mahthir said his first visit to Sarawak was shortly after the separation of Singapore from Malaysia. Then there were rumours that Sabah and Sarawak would join Singapore. He came together with Tun Abdul Razak to Sabah and Sarawak because they were worried that Sarawak might secede from Malaysia.

That was the first time he met Sarawak political leaders  like Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib, Tun Abdul Rahman Ya’kub, the third Chief Minister of Sarawak, Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Haji Daud, a former Federal Minister and others.

He recalled when they were in Miri they had to stay in a number of wooden houses belonging to Shell in Lutong.  In Kuching,  they were not very well as  SUPP then was still in the opposition with a very strong stand against Malaysia.

Generally, the urban Chinese have a mind of their own. In Sarawak, they were with SUPP, which  not with the alliance.  Tun Abdul Razak, after May 1969 racial disturbances in Peninsular Malaysia,  invited all the opposition parties to join the government and run the country together.

SUPP was one of those  opposition parties, which responded positively to the invitation and agreed that all must work together to downplay politics and concentrate on development of the country for the benefits of the people, State and country.

Apparently, SUPP, with its long history in the opposition, accepted the leadership of Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib very well. For a long time, SUPP formed a strong unit with PBB as the backbone of the Government and Barisan Nasional.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed observes that Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib has a very strong command of the essentials of politics in Sarawak. He managed to get strong support especially from the natives whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims; whether they’re Ibans, Bidayuhs, Melanaus, Orang Ulu and others.  

He says it is worthwhile listening to Pehin Sri Abdul Taib rather than do something else not in accord with his perception of things. He has a complete grasp of the situation.

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed says Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s greatest contribution to Malaysia, Sarawak in particular, is his ability to get the people, comprising  of different tribes and origins, to work together in the common pursuit for progress and development. It is not an easy thing to keep the people, comprising of about 30 ethnic groups together.

Even, the Chinese, who have always been very independent-minded accept his leadership.  Although some tried to pull away, they could never make any significant split to withdraw support Barisan Nasional being led by Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib. 

Sarawak Monitor 
August 29, 2014

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sarawak has potential to take important place in Malaysia

The common struggle of the people,  as  the country poises to celebrate its 57th anniversary of Merdeka, is not only to pick up greater prosperity but to push  Sarawak to take an important place in the successful federation that it helped to form 50 years ago. 

The Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, in his speech during a special gathering on July 22 to mark Sarawak’s Independence from Whitehall,   believes the new leaders, with the experience that they have gathered during his time and with the prevailing peace and stability,  will be able to look after Sarawak well.

Personally, he knows that Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Haji Satem, as the new Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues will bring more success to Sarawak.  He is a very patient man, who has analytical mind and a quiet determination to see that Sarawak will be the fore-runner in Malaysia by the year 2030.

But developing Sarawak, which is as big as Peninsula Malaysia, will continue to poise many challenges. The population is small and sparsely scattered over a wide area to make it even harder to provide them with basic facilities. Although the Federal Government is sympathetic with the State’s requests for bigger development funding to catch up, there is much more to be done including seeking for various other sources of funding.

Therefore, the State government must put in place different development approaches to accelerate its pace.   More importantly, the new approach must  incorporate the preparation of the State's Eleventh Malaysia Plan, whereby intensive engagement at various levels with the Federal Government will be carried out.

Obviously, time is the essence as the State, the country as whole, has less than six years to achieve the target of becoming a high income and advanced economy by 2020. The State Government must work out this matter with the Federal Government.

More importantly, the State must work hard and fast not only to realize Vision 2020 but to keep pace with the global demands and requirement against the backdrop that it is evolving rapidly.  Hence, the State, which is not isolated from the rest of the world, has to face numerous challenges along with the complexity of issues and the rising demands of quality services.

In such a situation, the State must make conscientious efforts, for example, to find new ways how to optimize usage of limited resources available to push progress and development for the people.

The State fully realizes that for any government to remain relevant and effective both in developed and developing countries, it must keep tab of various changes and endeavor to keep practical approaches to adapt itself to the changes. Otherwise, it may be left behind as no country will wait for us.

Basically, different time calls for different ways in responding to the situation. Malaysia, with its ability to keep up with the time, has many friends. For example, Malaysia through its network could leverage with 26 other nations, to collaborate in searching for the missing MH370 aircraft, which is not just a Malaysian crisis but adopted by other countries to help.

Chief Minister, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Adenan Haji Satem, in his speech during the recent retreat of High Performance Team (HPT) says as the important role of public service is to facilitate changes, it must endeavor to become more strategic and competitive globally. The time now is not only to provide services but to look for ways to make the Civil Service to become more accessible, more relevant and painless services.

He strongly subscribes to the idea of High Performance Team retreat, with members comprising of Permanent Secretaries of Ministries, Heads of Departments and CEOs of Government - linked companies, with the primary objective to solve issues and problems affecting the people in accordance with the common acceptance that the “customer is always right”.

In this regards, members of the Civil Service must adapt themselves to public’s demands, who are no longer content simply to be served; they ask questions, have their own mind within the evolution of the rising expectation. Unlike in the old days the people did not expect much from the Civil Service. 

 But the character of the public or the expectation of the public has increased and they want to be heard and have some participation in the government of the day. Hence, the Civil Service must endeavor to optimize organizational performances of its various Ministries, departments and other agencies

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan says the State Civil Service must endeavor to become highly adaptable to changes in implementing development programs and finding solution to the local needs and requirements. Flexibility of the public sector must be enhanced within the limited resources. They should never limit what they could do for the people in development.

More importantly, members of the civil service must make conscientious efforts to engage with the Rakyat. They must be ready to good down to the ground and listen to the needs and grouses of the people.  In the process, they should be able to come up with better solution to problems and issues affecting the people and be more familiar with what is happening surrounding them. This is will enhance their ability to act in bringing about   positive changes to the people.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan says the State aspires to raise the per capita higher and ensure a fairer distribution of incomes to the people to narrow equality among them.  The per capita income is meaningless if the income disparity among the people is very high. For example, it does not mean much with the GDP of US20,000 as not everybody earns US20,000. 

Some towkays earn much more than that and 10 or 20% of the people in the lower income group earn much less than it.  It is not the question of per capita but the question of disparity of income among the people. 

He assures that the State government does not want people to be spectators but  participants in development like SCORE; we want the people, comprising of various ethnic groups  to be participants and not mere spectators in the process of development.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan believes the only way to raise incomes of the people is skills development. The State must learn from the experience of other countries that skills development is the way to narrow the income disparity.

He says one of the core agenda to transform economic landscape of Sarawak is Sarawak Corridor of Renewable energy (SCORE). In this regards, the Civil Service has been prepared to face the potential challenges and play more important roles in the globalised economy.
Sarawak has an advantage as a country of various ethnicities, religions and cultures and yet the people are able to live in peace and harmony and become an example for others to follow.  Therefore, the State should harness this potential and direct it to resolving common issues that affect everyone.

Personally, he believes in unity in diversity, which has become the State’s  basis of unity  among the multi-cultural people.  The State has become an example unity in diversity for others to follow.  The Prime Minister, Dato Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak has openly acknowledged that 1Malaysia movement is based on Sarawak’s concept of Unity in Diversity.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan says Sarawakians need to stay focused to the State’s primary objective to build Sarawak where the people comprising of diverse ethnicities and other backgrounds can have opportunities to provide for themselves and their families and care for their children as well as their old parents.

He assures that the State government will work to improve the efficiency of the Government particularly the service delivery of the civil service. In this regards, policies must be properly formulated and implemented as quickly as possible so that the general public can benefit from them.

He is happy that the State has an efficient and effective civil service to continue improving and to serve the people well. The Government has been able to facilitate the activities of the society and economy and help businessmen and the people to improve their well- being.

In this regards, heads of departments have been tasked to promote team work among members of the staff to promote efficiency of service and tcreate the culture of excellence in the work place.  This is in line with the practice that trouble shooting should be performed by heads of departments in solving problems affecting the people.

In other words, senior officers must take personal responsibility in solving problems affecting the people. In some cases, they can delegate but must see that the jobs are done properly as delegation does not mean releasing the responsibility to junior officers

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan says personally he is not interested in listening to good excuses; anybody can manufacture good excuses. He wants the job to be done and not interested whether they are good or bad excuses.  Trouble shooting and problems solving must be performed by heads of departments, who may discover though they have done  much but there are still so much yet to be done.

He believes all challenges could be faced with innovative strategies, which should be pragmatic.  Some of the government’s policies may not have been successful because they have not been implemented properly. For example, as the Minister for the Modernisation of Agriculture some years ago, he received complaints from the people in DID scheme that they got excess water when they did not need it and no water when they needed it.

He found out that it was not the problem of the drainage and irrigation scheme, where a large sum of money had been spent on it  but the problem of the gatekeeper.  He opened and closed the gates without proper schedule and supervision.  The practical solution was to call the Kampung people, the gatekeeper and senior officers of DID to schedule the opening hours, which must differ from time to time.    It was a very practical solution that helped to solve the problem.

He says as the Minister of Social Development some years ago, he found a swimming pool opening only during office hours.  The Manager made the rule to suit him without taking into consideration that the people use the swimming pool after office hours. 

He also found a case of a football field being looked after by seven people but one them was very honest to tell him that he had been working for three months but nobody told him to do anything. It was the supervisor’s fault in not telling the people what to do in looking after the football field.  In New Zealand two men with machines could look after the whole of a Golf Course; the same thing happening in Australia. These are examples of failures in doing the jobs that have been tasked on them.

Sarawak Monitor 
August 27, 2014