Usually, the oppositions engage in rendering talks that the government’s policies on education, commerce and industry are favorable to Bumiputras only in the run up to the election or by – election in particular. They allege that the non Bumiputras and Bumiputras are not playing on a level playing field in such areas of development.
Those were the basis for them to come up with the slogan of social justice and in their campaign for change of the Government both at the Federal and State levels. Arguably, the peak of their campaign for change was in the run up to the 13th State elections, which they carried out vociferously to such an extent that they even engaged evil writers and western propagandists to make unsubstantiated allegations against the leadership.
Generally, the response from some Bumiputras is understandable. Of course, the government policy is not fair. If it has been fair the Bumiputra in Sarawak, who form more than 70% of the population should have 70% share in the State wealth. But the reverse is happening; they own less than 20% of the wealth.
But as Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, the fourth Prime Minister, used to say if everybody is unhappy with the related policies then they can be considered to be fair. Otherwise, if the Bumiputras are happy and the Non Bumiputras are not happy, the policy is only favorable to the Bumiputras and not to the Non Bumiputras.
However, as the government is by the people and for the people, it must assume the primary responsibility to help Bumiputras to raise their stakes in the State or national wealth, if Malaysia is to emerge as a reasonably just society by the year 2020.
However, the Bumiputra communities on their part must endeavor to find ways to participate more meaningfully in the implementation of the development plans and programs to ensure that they will not to be left out of the mainstream of development. They must take full advantage of the thrusts of the current and succeeding development plans that give them opportunities to equalize themselves with other communities.
Basically, the Economic Transformation Program is the migration from the middle income to high income economy by the year 2020. Its primary objective is to tackle the problem of poverty, try to equalize the incomes of the country and sustain the debt level so that Malaysia can become a developed nation by the year 2020.
More importantly, the country, the state by extension must be able to sustain the level of income of between US15,000 to US 20,000 as a developed nation. These are high targets.
The Prime Minister, Dato Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak, in a very imaginative way, wants problems in implementing the development plan should be identified, analyzed and solved as early as possible by taking into consideration the local situations in order to achieve the desired goals.
Understandably, the style of administration must accommodate local knowledge or problems so that they can be valued in a more imaginative way. For example, the delivery system must operate based on the slogan of people first, performance a priority to ensure that the country or the state will achieve the desired targets.
The Yang di Pertua Negeri, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, while still the Chief Minister, in his speeches used to remind the people that as Sarawak gained Independence six years later than other states in Peninsular Malaysia, it has got quite a lot of catch up to do. For example, the State has to build more roads and extend more electricity and water supplies to the people in rural areas as a matter of priority.
More people in rural areas should have the basic amenities to catch up with the people in the urban areas. Arguably, major urban centers and cities are enjoying rapid growth and small towns have grown into bigger towns. This shows that development has taken place faster in the urban areas when compared to rural areas.
|Sarawak Rural Development Plan|
Logically, the State Government must intensify efforts in developing the rural areas in the coming years In order to narrow the development disparity in the State. Therefore, the State Government as spelt out in Budget 2015 will give priority to the development of rural areas especially those with vast economic potentials.
With the growing demand for more development, the State Government will place greater priority to the development of key infrastructures such as major road connections, clean water and electricity supplies and other public amenities for the rural people.
The new development, among other things, should be able to create environment in areas that is conducive for the private sector to venture into viable economic activities such as plantation development, aquaculture, large - scale food cultivation and processing and other resource-based value added industries.
Hopefully, the new emphasis will be able to yield better results in spite of the problems of transportation, scattered community in small numbers and a bit of below par number of people, who have got the right skills and talents to mobilize the rural economy.
There will be lot problems, not only administrative and procedural in nature, but how to equip the people, young people in particular with the right kind of skills and qualifications to work in industrial plants and factories with industrialization.
Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib said the development plan for Sarawak all the way to the year 2030 has been formulated based on the policy of trying to integrate the most backward parts of Sarawak namely the central region of Sarawak that comprises places like Kanowit, Kapit, Belaga and Ulu Baram into a kind of corridor in order to harness their potentials in development.
It means the integration of the economy in order to create the economy of scale to undertake projects that can give economic industries. Quite obviously the plan coincides with the concept of the New Economic Model.
However, the State Government has to identify a kind of force that can make the integration possible. The central region, unlike the southern part which is quite densely populated, is sparsely populated. However, the region has greatest magnet in the form of water resources. Hence, the approach to the new development plan has to concentrate on how to give comparatively cheaper rates of energy to industries.
Besides, Sarawak is known to have about half a billion ton of coal reserves that can become sources of energy on top of hydro power. Hence, the State can be more flexible in planning the development of the energy resources and even out the curves in building the supply of energy.
But hydroelectricity is not easy development to undertake especially for a developing State like Sarawak, which not long ago was in the back water of development. It takes at least four to five years to plan and probably three to four years to develop a hydro dam.
Sarawak, with half a billion tons of coal, is in the position to fill in the gap between the thrust of the supply of hydro energy with those from coal fired generating power plants. The State has a plan to generate 3,000MW of electricity by 2016. The target is to have a minimum of 20,000 MW of electricity all the way to 2030.
That will enhance the State’s ability to give energy at the earlier stage. The State aims to produce as much energy as possible in the early stage so that heavy industries can come in earlier.
Understandably, the state has the ambition to bring world class industries to come to Sarawak as its emphasis on industrialization. Therefore, it has to work hard to get the necessary investments and capital to develop the energy resources to attract heavy industries that can give real impact to the local people.
Generally, they will be able to create downstream industries for the benefits of the local people. For example, the aluminum industry will be able to create wide range of downstream industries including a factory worth of RM1 million to produce aluminum products for windows or other things.
The State’s plan is to have four or five other mechanical pulp and paper plants, each in Ulu Baram, Kapit and Betong, where the soil is more suitable for tree planting industry. A plan will need the support of 50,000 hectares of forests, which will be planted with fast growing species of trees.
Hopefully, the development will be able to produce high value products and create more opportunities for better employment for the local people to improve their livelihood.
The State is estimated to export RM4 billion worth of Halal products annually from Tanjung Manis within seven years. Some of the products will come all the way from Bintulu, Igan or Tunoh in Kapit division. The Halal hub industry has already started the right way with the setting up of a laboratory.
The State is investing with Taiwanese investors as partners to develop the hub to produce food that should be devoid of chemical hazard or other things. For example, the hub plans to produce chickens that do not contain lots of anti-biotic. The hub has the formula to ensure that the meat to be produced will be free of anti-biotic. That will be a premium formula. There will be many other things that will benefit from bio-tech process.
The Halal market is still fresh area to be exploited in the world market. Therefore, there is no reason why Malaysia, as a respected Muslim country all over the world, should not to take the Halal hub very seriously. The State has planned to make Tanjung Manis, which is riddled with rivers and a good water body, as the centre for the Halal hub industry.
The region has got a very good port and another port will be built at Paloh, which is deeper than Kuala Rajang, to provide easier access to the world market.
It is estimated that about 1.5 million jobs will be created by the year 2030 with the development of heavy industries and their downstream activities. Obviously, Sarawak will have a lot of new things that have not been tried in Peninsular Malaysia with the development of SCORE.
However, the success of the development of heavy industries hinges on the State’s capability and efficiency in producing people with technical knowledge and skills and professionals to man local industries. Hence, conscientious efforts must be made to encourage more Bumiputras to undertake technical education rather than the normal path of education.
This will help to ensure there will be no mismatch between the kind of people being trained and the kind of jobs that will created by industries in the development of the economy in future.
The State, which started the oil palm industry later than Semenanjung Malaysia, has been able to take necessary steps to contain and control pollutants. For example, the State has fish ponds in areas where the water from the factories is being discharged. Sarawak will have 2 million hectares of palm oil by the year 2020.
This is the kind palm oil industry, which can be considered to be more modern, being developed in the State. Generally, the State has reached a stage of development that puts great emphasis on environmental protection that even the timber industry does not pollute the environment.
Hopefully, more qualified Bumiputras will return to work in rural areas to manage plantations or take part in downstream industrial activities as development is being pushed to their areas towards the year 2020 and beyond.
6 March 2015