Friday, July 25, 2014

The significance of July 22 to Sarawak

Sarawak has come of age when the people should be able to see a brighter future ahead, be grateful for whatever they have and take cognizance of their humble beginning  in order to realise how lucky and blessed they are as Anak Sarawak Rakyat Malaysia (People of Sarawak Citizens of Malaysia).

In 60s and 70s, Anak Sarawak, residing in Kuala Lumpur, admitted that it was easier not to tell people which State they came from, not because they were not proud of their state, but in order to avoid answering some very stupid questions like how many people still lived on trees or how many people still lived in caves or what is the different between Kuching and Sarawak and many more.

Generally, the people, who believed they were superior human beings than their counterparts in Sarawak, had totally lacked of knowledge and information about the State, which had very little exposure by both the print and electronic media, which were and are still biased towards Peninsular Malaysia.

Even now the so-called National papers have little or no coverage of the State. As a consequence, the people in Sarawak are more knowledgeable about events and happenings in Peninsular Malaysia than their counterparts there about Sarawak. Perhaps, the media practitioners there should start asking themselves what are their roles in promoting national integration for example through the movement of 1Malaysia.

Thanks to the third Chief Minister of Sarawak, Dato Haji Abdul Rahman Ya’kub (now Tun Haji Abdul Rahman Ya’kub), who was the man of his time, came up with a slogan Sarawak a model State in Malaysia (Sarawak Negeri Contoh Dalam Malaysia) primarily to boost the morale and confidence of the people. 

Until the early 80s, the Sarawak still remained in the backwater lane of development, under-developed and having high incidence of poverty. Then the rate of poverty in the state was more than 10% per cent and unemployment among the people especially youth in villages and longhouses were very high.  The demographic pattern of the State was about 80% rural and 20% urban. 

The situation gave rise to an explosive feeling of dissatisfaction against the government, which was being accused of pursuing politics of favouritism. Consequently, instigating racial and communal feelings was the best weapon to win support, though a highly divisive support, in any elections.  

Of course, the situation has changes with many places in rural areas being connected by roads. The State government, with the support and co-operation of the Federal government has successfully constructed about 30,000 KM of various types of roads throughout the state. 

The State government has also been working very hard to develop the infrastructure to provide basic amenities like clean water and electricity that can give some comfort to the people.  The electricity will not give light to the people but more importantly the power for children to use computer and serve the internet to get access to information on knowledge and skills and keep up with the progress of the world. 

Undoubtedly, Sarawak has been experiencing tremendous changes and progress that can touch the livelihood of the people though some of them are far up in the hinterlands like Ba’kelalan,  Belaga, Ulu Baram and Kapit, or in remote coastal areas of Kpg Nyabor near Kabong, Kpg. Penipah in Pulau Bruit,   which used to be remote and inaccessible in the early days.  

Actually the State’s success during the last 50 years is the same with Brazil, with the per capita income of more than RM40,000 and being a more successful nation in South America. But Brazil has been Independent for almost 200 years, while Sarawak only 50 years. 

The State’s gross domestic product in 1963 was RM505 million and now after 50 years of Independence, it is RM108 billion.  The per capita in 1963 was RM688 and now it is RM42,000.  But the common concerned is what the people actually get. 

Undoubtedly, the people, since Independence 50 years ago, are enjoying the benefits of development.  There were more people under employment than employment in 1963. Then the people, generally, had to live from hand to mouth. In other words, they had to work first before they could have their breakfast.

By the 70s there were only 300,000 job opportunities. Now there are 1.1 million job opportunities in the State.  The rate of unemployment in 1990 was 9.9%. It has dropped to around 4% now.     
As a consequence, the rate of poverty has been reduced from more than 60% in 1963 to 2.4% now. The household income in 1963 was only RM410 and now it is RM4,200 an increase of more than 10 times.  

Today, Sarawak observes July 22 with a gathering held at the State Legislative Assembly. His Excellency the Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud launched a special edition of the pictorial book on the progress and of Sarawak during the last 50 years.

The State Government has given appropriate recognition to the significance of July 22 as it was on this day that the British Colonial Administration, the successor of the 100 years of Brookes’ rule, handed over power to people of Sarawak for the internal self-government; it was the first step toward nationhood.

July 22 must be recognised as a highly significant day for our beloved State of Sarawak as it was on this day,  51 years ago, that Sarawak established the first post Independent cabinet to officially launch a new political entity in the world.

It should truly be a momentous day for Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib as it was on this day 51 years ago that he was sworn in as a member of the first post Independence State Cabinet at the young age of 27 years old. Members of the six-member cabinet comprised of leaders, who had been elected by the people during the June/July 1963 elections.

The primary task of the six – member cabinet was to spearhead a campaign for Sarawak to become a State in the new federation of Malaysia to fulfil the desire and aspiration of the people to become a State in the proposed Federation of Malaysia. 

All of them realised that Sarawak could not afford to build its own security and Armed Forces in Asia, which was not stable then.  Therefore, the choice of Anak Sarawak and members of the first Cabinet was for the formation of Malaysia to be formalized as a soon as possible.   It was the people, who had been working very hard for the Independence of Sarawak to become a state and later a state in the Federation of Malaysia. 

They were also pre-occupied with the desire to reserve their customs and traditions and peace and harmony among the various ethnic and religious groups in the State. Obviously, as Anak Sarawak they had to shoulder heavy responsibilities to keep Sarawak to remain harmonious, united and peaceful. 

Undoubtedly, Sarawak has achieved tremendous progress, which, at one time, nobody dared even to dream off, a progressive, modern and well-developed State. However, with the rising expectation, the people expect the higher level of progress and achievement in the future.  They realize that the achievement during the last 50 years is not completed yet.

The State government, with the support and co-operation of the Federal government has constructed more than 30,000 KMs of roads to various parts of the State since Independence. Before, the people had to use boats or walk to such places but now they can use motorcars or motorcycles.

Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib can still vividly remember having to walk along muddy path, stop in shallow rivers or near the coasts to wait for the tide before he could proceed to his destination during the first years of Independence to prepare the minds of the people for their new roles in the struggle for nation building.

His late wife Datuk Patinggi Laila, who had never seen rural areas, when she accompanied him, had to struggle walking on a tree trunk across a river. They had to face such problems as the state was still poor and grossly under-developed. Now the State has built hundreds of bridges across numerous rivers to connect roads that have already been constructed.

The State has also built hundreds of rural health clinics, introduced mobile health services by vehicles, boats and flying doctor services. Before hospitals could only be found in Kuching, Sibu and Miri. But now 14 hospitals have been built in all divisions and major districts throughout the state. Besides, a number of medical centres including medical specialist centres have been set up by the private sector in cities and major towns throughout the state.

Now 95% of the people in rural areas have clean water supply and 85% have electricity.  Besides, they can enjoy better health services and have more employment opportunities coming up in their areas.

In the early days after Independence, young children had to be ferried by boats or walked for some distances to schools. Some rural schools also introduced the school mother system, through which to employ a person for minimal pay, to cook simple food for young children who had to stay in boarding house. Now young children in rural areas can benefit from good facilities being provided in schools.

The struggle for development must not only be continued but intensified to fulfil the hopes of the people for the future. In this regards, parents must give every encouragement to their children to study hard to acquire relevant knowledge and technical skill as the State enters the era of massive industrialisation.   There will be a lot of employment opportunities coming up with the transformation of the economy from medium to high income economy. 

For this reason, the children must have high ambition and focus their studies to employment opportunities that will come up. Advisably, young people should  pursue technical education and training  to prepare themselves for the important roles in the development of industries, which is increasingly being accelerated toward the year 2020 and beyond.  

Understandably, the ultimate objective is to achieve the status of a developed nation with Sarawak as part of it.  For this reason, the spirit of the struggle and sacrifices of the previous generation must be continued in future.    That was the spirit, which has given the State a tremendous success in the past 50 years.  

Now it is for the present and future generations to achieve, in the next 50 years, Sarawak as part of a bigger nation that is fully developed, industrialized and diversified in the economy. More importantly, they must ensure that the state will have happy people by implementing the correct social policy that makes it possible to achieve greater equality among them.

Obviously, the State has been implementing development policies and strategies, which sometimes differ from the rest of the country, to meet local demands and situation to remain the integral part of the a country that is actively moving toward greater equality. The State is fully aware that any country cannot become successful if any ethnic groups are being left out of the mainstream development.

In this regards, the State government has already planned for a more ambitious development plan in order to achieve greater progress and prosperity than what has already been achieved. The people will be able to benefit more from the development programs and projects through their own initiatives and efforts as development and progress do not roll to the people’s laps.

Basically, the backbone of any nation is the common people, who must work and labour for it. Hence, the people must work hard and cooperate with the Government to push Sarawak forward to become more peaceful, prosperous and progressive towards the year 2020 and beyond.

The Golden Jubilee celebration is an appropriate occasion to remind ourselves that we are Anak Sarawak proud citizens of Malaysia, who are committed to push ahead with development in order to create more opportunities for the people of diverse ethnic and religious groups in order to achieve greater equality among them. 

Sarawak Monitor 
July 25, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sarawak Civil Service endeavors to benchmark with leading organizations

The Transformation Program of Sarawak Civil Service, initiated in 2010, has the Vision to transform the Civil Service to become the World Class Civil Service towards the Year 2020 with the Mission to achieve excellence in service through High Performance Team solutions.

SCS’s vision to be A World Class Civil Service is motivated by the desire to serve the Rakyat in a truly distinguished manner. Obviously, the members must never lose sight of the vision as it gives meaning and value to everything that they do. 

If the understanding of the vision becomes clouded and means different things to different people, then chaos will reign as each of them will be heading in different directions. They should regularly refer back to the vision and mission so that they can move together with a shared sense of purpose, direction and priorities.

To be “World Class Civil Service” means that the members must continuously improve the standards of service delivery and adopt and use tools and processes that are used by world class institutions such as Balance Scorecard and Strategic Planning. 

They must regularly benchmark themselves with leading organizations in the world and ensure that the level of service is just as good if not better than them. The members must be prepared to be audited by Auditor General and internationally bodies such as Moody’s. 

Besides, they must enhance their capacity to organize international events such as the recent CAPAM Convention and compete in international arenas as was done by the KIK teams. These are all components of effort to be world class. 
The State Secretary, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohd. Morshidi Ghani, is personally optimistic that the State Civil Service will be able to meet the challenges with various initiatives and measures that the members have undertaken to increase the efficiency, for example, of the service delivery. 

Sarawak State Secretary, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohd. Morshidi Ghani
His optimism is based on boundless energy, enthusiastic passion, steadfast dedication and unwavering commitment that he could sense within members of the civil service in the course of his various interactions with them.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi, is his speech during a special gathering of members of the staff of the Chief Minister’s Department, said as public servants their existence is to serve the public. Their job is a noble cause if it is done well; they can change the lives of many for the better. Through their work, they can bring reality to the hopes, dreams and aspirations of others and ensure that their lives today is better than yesterday and that their tomorrow will be better than today. 

He said this is our duty and obligation to the Rakyat as enshrined in our philosophy “An Honor to Serve”. In this respect, everything that we do like creating policies, building facilities and planning for projects ultimately have impact on the well- being of people. Therefore, we must take our job very seriously. It is far too important and sacred to be dealt with in a nonchalant and dispassionate attitude.

He believed that it is a very fulfilling call to serve in the Civil Service. He is reminded of a quote by Einstein, who puts it rather well: “Only a life that lives for others is a life worthwhile.”The more we serve others, the more enriched we become - not monetarily, but in blessings

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said as a High Performing Organization, the State civil service must take a strategic approach and operate through clear action plans and challenging performance targets. The plans in today’s quickly evolving environment must be regularly reviewed and revised. Hence, members of the Civil Service must constantly be challenging themselves to find ways to improve what they do.

He said SCS 10-20 Action Plan is the Integral part of World Class Civil Service.  It was introduced in 2012 and improvised in 2013 to give emphasis on eight sectors namely Managing Culture of Change, Managing Customer Needs, Innovation & Creativity, HR Talent Management, e-Government, Project & Program Delivery Excellence, Financial Management Transformation and Sarawak Excellent Administration of Legal Services

The SCS 10-20 Action is aimed at expediting and leapfrogging the transformation process to achieve the objective of Perkhidmatan Awam Negeri Sarawak or PANS. In the first 12 months after the launching, a number of programs and actions under SCS 10-20 Action Plan have produced positive results

They are as follows:
  • SCS Transformation Policy No.1 of 2013 by UPPQ;
  • Guidelines for managing culture of Change Bil.1 Tahun 2013 by UPPQ;
  • Manual Program for Mentoring by UPSM;
  • A total of 60 Grade 41 officers were recruited under the New Recruitment and Selection System;
  • Induction course for Grade 41 officers has also been using the New Induction Program;
  • Guidelines & Log Book on 42 Hours Training & Mentoring has been developed and issued by UPSM.
  • He said reduction of rate of “sick projects” must be consistent with the capability to complete NKRA Roads project exceeding the target under MIDCOM.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said the State Civil Service has prepared SCS online service through KIOSK, Balanced Scorecard System (e-BSC), EBPP, Talikhidmat and e-Recruitment are mobile-enabled and eLA2 extended to 10 other District Councils in the overall efforts to turn the service to become Electronic service. 

He said eight State government agencies have been awarded 4-star in Auditor General Malaysia Report and 32 others get three- star in the Accountability Index (AI) for the year 2012.

Undoubtedly, KFA has given impact to the improvement of process and system in agencies of PANS. For example, a total of 462 KFA were produced until 2013. During the period, a total of 88 business licenses were improved through Business Process Reengineering under the Business Licensing Initiatives. Only 68 licenses were retained.  

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said the State Civil Service has the most number of Innovation and Creativity groups in the country. It has also introduced KIK Hybrid to combine two or more agencies in one Kumpulan KIK.

Besides, a total of 71.43% of agencies or 65 of them are being monitored, as part of the discipline of managing Culture of Change, to have implemented at least two programs based on six values of PANS.

He said the introduction of the concept of “One Government at Your Service” primarily to improve the delivery service to customers is being divided into three phases of implementation. 

The first phase “Service through Kiosk” was introduced with the integration of six online services covering Pay bills Malaysia, e-Scholarship, e-Recruitment, Talikhidmat, e-Contractor and Consultant and Government Directories. The first Kiosk was launched on December 10 2013 at Plaza Merdeka.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said the HPT Solutions,  introduced during HPT Retreat 2013 with the primary objective to achieve quick wins through the process of inter inter-agency discussion, is the manifestation of the determination of the State Civil Service to achieve excellence in Service at par with the world standard.  

For example, six issues out of 12 being discussed by a group in HPT Solutions have been solved and the rest will be solved soon. The Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management (CAPAM) Board of Director’s Meeting, General Members Meeting and Regional Forum was successfully held from October 27 to 30, 2013.

However, he said the transformation journey ahead will be more robust and significant. It will involve, since the beginning of this year, various initiatives and programs evolving around the following areas:

  • Enhancement of the current action plans undertaken by the various agencies;
  • Taking stock of the existing programs and rectifying any problems of implementation;
  • Creating world class knowledge workers for the Sarawak Civil Service with expertise in their professional fields and displaying a global mindset and working culture;
  • Creating a new work culture that embraces the values encapsulated in SCS 10-20;
  • Leveraging ICT that cuts across agencies and functions;
  • Developing human resource capital that focuses on talent management and customer focus; and
  • Creating a more sustainable and impactful culture of innovation and creative thinking.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi said the future is not one of ease where members of the civil service can take it easy. It will become more demanding and challenging. The stakeholders will expect more from them. Therefore, they have to strive more and use all the resources more creatively so that they can meet their expectations. One of the most powerful resources that they can have is the shared values. 

He said the six core values of the civil service must become the arsenal that directs behavior of members. The values of teamwork, kind and caring, result-oriented, integrity, professionalism and sense of ownership and urgency must consciously be cultivated to become the norm in everything that they do.
He believed when the values are practiced regularly, they will become habit and if all of them cultivate the habits, the common habits will become their culture. Once they have a strong culture, it will give them strength to weather even the worst of storms. 

In this regard, he urged all Officers in the Civil Service to take seriously the various culture building activities being organized by the service. They should endeavor to acquire and internalize the values and practice them regularly. 

He believed the acquisition of the values will not only contribute to professional life but enrich personal life at home and in the community. Hence, they should make the cultures to become norm among them. More importantly they should make an honest Feeling and Humility to become important values.

Personally, he believed if members of the Civil Service go down to reach out to the people with an air of authority and with the attitude that “I know what is good for you”, it is very likely that the people will stay away from them. In other words, the greatest barrier between them and the people will be if they let their EGO takes over. An English writer and philosopher, George Bernard Shaw described EGO as “Edging God Out” to imply that people with ego tend to think that they even greater than god. 

Once any member of the Civil Service is guided by EGO, pride and arrogance takes over and he tends to make decisions that do not take into account interests of those affected by them. Ultimately, the decision is likely to fail and result in much frustration for the people and deplete their trust on the civil service.

Therefore, it is very important that civil servants cultivate the quality of humility and learn to be humble as part of the ‘Kind and Caring’ value so that the Rakyat can interact with them more comfortably. Once they don’t have that ego, they will become humble enough in their services.

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi related a recent study by two professors from University of Buffalo and University of Wisconsin in USA found that humble leaders are more effective and liked better. The study, covering different organizations like military, financial, services, religions all agreed that the essence of a leader’s humility involves modeling to followers on how to grow. 

According to Prof Bradley Owens, one of the researcher: "Growing and learning often involves failure and can be embarrassing But leaders who can overcome their fears and broadcast their feelings as they work through the messy internal growth process will be viewed more favorably by their followers. They also will legitimize their followers' own growth journeys and will have higher-performing organizations."

The researchers found that humble leaders model how to be effectively human rather than super human and legitimize “becoming” rather than “pretending”.

He said integrity is a way of life that is molded by the basic foundation for the betterment of the people that they serve. It demands transparency, predictability and consistency whereby every decision and action that they make must be based on facts, truth, and the common good. 

He said indications are that members of the Civil Service will continue to face a more challenging ahead of them as the Federal government has embarked on an austerity drive even though the demands and expectations of the public is forever increasing and becoming more complex. 

He is happy that generally members of the Civil Service have been working hard. However working hard alone is not enough. They need to work smart as well as work hard. They must take time to understand the situation and come out with efficient solutions to get more done with less time and efforts.

He recalled during the race to space in the 60s and 70s between the Americans and the Russians, both the astronauts from America and the Cosmonauts from Russia faced a problem. The normal ballpoint pens could not be used in space because of the lack of gravitational force and low pressure. 

The Americans formed a team of 10 scientists to work on the problem. After 1 year and spending 6 billion dollars, they developed a unique pen that worked at zero gravity and low pressure. The Russians also found a solution to this problem. They used pencils! Most of the time complicated problems have very simple solutions; it just requires us to think differently.

This function serves as a forum for members of the civil service to interact among them and at the same time share the movement in a sincere manner the movement, wishes and in my expectation of all members of the staff of 

Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi thanked members of the staff of the Chief Minister’s department, which is being entrusted to pioneer the agenda of the transformation of Sarawak Civil Service through the Action Plan of SCS10-20, for their pioneering spirit and selfless efforts to enable the department to achieve tremendous success over the years. 

All of them deserve to be congratulated. But the most important thing is for them not only to keep up with the good work but continue to improve on their achievement in the overall efforts to make a perfect transformation process as planned for Sarawak Civil Service.   

Sarawak Monitor
July 18, 2014

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Opposition is insensitive towards feelings of Natives in development

Members of the opposition, including the elected representatives of the people whether they are Members of Parliament or the State Legislative Assembly should learn to be grateful for what have been done in their constituencies and not just know to ask things from the government or worse, criticize it. 

For example, the member for Kota Sentosa asked at least RM20 million grant per annum for the Chinese education while his colleague, the member for Repok asked not less than RM 15 million grant per annum for the same purpose.

Actually, based on the information from the Ministry of Education for the period between 2011 and 2013, a total of RM133 million was given for Chinese Education in the State. It means the Chinese education gets RM44 million, much more than what both State Assemblymen had been asking for, in a year.

The State Assemblyman for Semop, Encik Abdullah Bin Haji Saidol, in his speech, during the debate on the Motion of Thanks to the Yang di Pertua Negeri , Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud for his opening speech on the first day of the recent sitting of the State Legislative Assembly, said  most of the remarks made by the opposition against the government were very naughty and had no logic at all. 

However, in view of the time constraint, he had to confine him to respond to the naughty ones only. For example, the Member for Kota Santosa mentioned not less than six times that the Government should give bigger allocations to Chinese education in order to win the heart of the Chinese community.

Obviously, the Member wanted the Government to implement policies that are favorable to a certain community only like granting bigger allocation to Chinese schools; the opposition considered only such policies were worthy of its support.

Abdullah Saidol, who is also the Chief Political Secretary to the Chief Minister, said the Bumiputras, unlike the non-Bumiputras, who are largely being represented by the Opposition, believe when their land and timber resources are being used for development, they are being put into good use because the benefits can be shared by all.  In the process, they are making sacrifices, prepared to tolerate and compromise. They co-operate with the government in the process of development for the benefits of the people, state and country.

These are policies being implemented by the Government since the early days for all Sarawakians but who benefit the most from them? In this regards, they should open their minds, ears and eyes on the development in cities or towns throughout the State and learn to recognize the new realities in their midst.

Admittedly, he could not understand the minds of the opposition, who cant see progress and development taking place in and around them. Had it ever come to their mind that Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu Miri would not be developed if not for the Government policies of sharing the resources among the people?  

He felt sad that members of the opposition, generally, had been insensitive towards the feelings of Bumiputra in socio – economic development.  It’s about time, that Bumiputras should make demands on their rights because they have feeling too. They represent 2/3 majority of the Bumiputra community in Sarawak. Yes, Barisan Nasional Sarawak is a fixed deposit to Barisan Nasional in Peninsular Malaysia but Barisan Nasional in Sarawak, also remains a fixed deposit for the State.  

However, Abdullah Saidol also called on Bumiputra businessmen to stop practicing “Ali Baba” in doing business especially in undertaking contract works. If they cant handle the jobs, dont ask for them. Give someone else the opportunity to do them.

 The State Assemblyman said he had a video when the late Karpal Singh lambasted at Anwar Ibrahim for being a person, who had created enough trouble for the country. He should repent. The statement has gone viral in the internet, for example, the You Tube. 

Abdullah Saidol said basically the late Karpal Singh said Anwar Ibrahim had created a lot of trouble to the country and he must repent. The people in Sarawak hate cheat or ruble rouser and PKR have no place in Sarawak.

Earlier, the State Assemblyman, on behalf of the people of the State Constituency of Semop, which is as big as Perlis, congratulated Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud on his appointment as the Seventh Yang di-Pertua Negeri after serving more than 33 as the Fourth Chief Minister of Sarawak from March 26, 1981 to March 1, 2014.

He said before leaving his office on the last day, he wrote on a plaque at the Recreational Centre of Wisma Bapa Malaysia “ I love Sarawak” The remark reflects the true character of the trusted and loyal Anak Sarawak, who is well known for excellence and glorious in his leadership.    

He also thanked Pehin Sri Abdul Taib for his sacrifices, self-less dedication and courage in the services of more than half century of the people, State and country. Pehin Sri Abdul Taib will not only be remembered but will forever serve as the inspiration to the younger politicians like himself to work hard to continue with the struggle not only to make the State more prosperous but in the defense of the integrity and sovereignty of the State.

Pehin Sri Abdul Taib left behind the policies and plans of development, which requires comprehensive structuring for implementation in order to meet the demand and challenges of time ahead. As the Chief Minister, he introduced a number of political philosophies like the politics of development, which can continue to serve as the basis of the common struggle to push Sarawak to become the richest State in the country by the year 2030. 

The State Assemblyman of Balai Ringin, Snowdan Lawan, in his speech prayed that His Excellency will continue to be endowed with good health, peace and happiness as the umbrella of the beloved state.

He said the State is indeed very fortunate to have the Head of State who has served many years and provided exemplary leadership as the Chief Minister of Sarawak. His Excellency is a very experienced administrator and wise statesman.

He said His Excellency’s opening speech, which focused on harmony and unity of the people, continuity of good development for Sarawak also touched on the whole spectrum of socio-economic development that needs to be well- planned, be understood by the people and implemented efficiently for the good progress and accelerated development momentum in the future.

Indisputably, Sarawak is a model of the multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious society. The State is second to none in term of racial and religious harmony, which is the pillar of unity and strength that must be cherished and continuously nurtured for the future of the beloved State.

He believed the social harmony and unity has given the State the cutting edge amidst the constraints and challenges that have to be confronted at times. Besides, social harmony and unity has enabled the State to endure the challenges and bind the people together even stronger to move forward.

He congratulated the State government for the foresight and initiative in organizing the 50th anniversary or the Golden Jubilee celebration of Sarawak’s progress in Malaysia. The activities and exhibitions being organized in conjunction with the celebration give good information and insight to the rakyat, the young generations in particular, who must have a good understanding, for example, of the struggle and sacrifice of the past leaders in making Sarawak into what it is today.

Indisputably, the past leaders have been creating an environment that is conducive for development to enable it to become a vibrant State that promises bright future for the people, the new generation in particular. 

Obviously, the State economic has been following a rapid and steady path of growth over the past two decades since 1990s. The economic growth during the period was between 5% to 6% per annum and the per capita income around 5%.  Basically, the State is on the right track to achieve the target USD$15 thousand per capita income, the benchmark to attain the status of a developed status earlier than the year 2020.

Snowdan Lawan was happy that the economic growth has been resilient to withstand the adverse shocks such as the haze, Asian Financial Crisis, the Iraq war, SARS and avian flu, the US credit crunch and the recent experience of foreign capital flights from developing economies due to the tapering of US Federal Reserve.

He attributed the healthy economic growth to pragmatic policy and well-planned socio-economic development plan and programs, which were followed through by good project and financial management, including efficient delivery system.

He believed the next decade of the State’s economy will continue to be supported by the aggressive development of oil Palm Plantation and downstream activities, harnessing the Deep-Sea Fishing resources and developing energy potential, particularly hydro and coal resources. These considerably new sources of growth would definitely augur well in continuing to bring the economy into a very prosperous level.

He said the development of human capital is of utmost importance in the quest for sustainable development and industrialization.  The State must produce more knowledge and skilled workers to meet the demands of the fast changing environment to match new industrial requirements. However, the State is fortunate to have started well by setting up various technical colleges, polytechnics and universities in the State.

These institutions of higher learning will no doubt enable the State to train, equip and produce the right mix of human capital for industries. These institutions on their own or in collaboration with industry players should also embark on Research and development (R&D) to assist the sustainability and productivity of industries.

Sarawak has a vast land area but has a considerably low population density of only 17 persons per square kilometer. The land mass also has good terrains ranging from the hilly slopes in the highlands to the flat coastal plains. Thus the State can capitalize on developing energy resources, particularly hydro-power to generate energy and attract energy-based industries. The hydro-power is even more strategic with volatility in the global prices of fossil fuel; sometimes experiencing sharp increases in the prices.   

Snowdan Lawan believed the development of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy or  (SCORE) will definitely propel the economy to greater heights, to bring the State to an industrialized economy. It will generate energy-based industries and their clusters, thereby making the State the power-house for the Region. Once SCORE is fully implemented by year 2030, the State will be amongst the richest State in the Nation.

More importantly, the rural areas will experience more development and transformation and bring about a balance in development.  As the rural areas are vast, they represent the future potential of the economy where great opportunities are available to further develop the State and increase the revenue streams.

However, the State must continue to undertake the development of large-scale agriculture such as oil palm plantations as the catalyst to promote various downstream processing activities linked to the production of  food  and pharmaceutical and other biotechnology products.

Besides, the State must also look into the diversification of the agricultural enterprises in the overall efforts to modernize this very important sector of our economy. Hence conscientious efforts must be made to explore various other crops and commodities that have economic potentials, such as pineapple and coconut plantations.

In this regards, the sub-sectors like livestock farming, large-scale aquaculture and deep- sea fishing must also be modernized to ensure that the economy will continue to experience rapid rates of growth and substantially improve the quality of life of the people.

Snowdan Lawan anticipated a large number of people from rural areas moving to towns to seek better job opportunities and quality of life.  The rural areas until the 80s had more than three quarters of the State’s population. However, the rural population has declined to less than half of the State’s population of l 2.6 million now.

Presumably, more colonies of squatters of rural migrants in towns may come up. If they are left on their own, may become   sources of social problems and vice-related activities.  Hence, the Local Councils must be on the alert of their presence and endeavor to improve their welfare and well-being as the overall welfare of the urban community must not be compromised.

 Sarawak Monitor

July 10, 2014