The Prime Minister, in honoring his election promise to deliver Pan Borneo Highway to the people of Sarawak, launched the project on March 31, 2015. It is a well-planned and extensive highway networks that can help to change the economic landscape and accelerate the economic growth for the State.
The Pan Borneo Highway, like the Federal highways in Peninsular Malaysia, is being needed to improve the mobility of people and transportation of goods efficiently from one point to another. More importantly, it will help to integrate and transform the economy of Sarawak towards the year 2020 and beyond. .
Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Adenan Satem, in his 2015 budget speech said the people in Sarawak have been waiting for the development of Pan Borneo Highway as they believe it will bring about significant socio-economic progress to the State as can be seen from the impact of highways in Peninsular Malaysia; they do not want to be left behind any longer.
Generally, the people believe it is never too late for Sarawak to have the highway. The people, comprising about 30 ethnic and sub-ethnic groups welcome Pan Borneo Highway with open arm. They look at the overall picture what it will do to transform Sarawak’s economy from agro-based to industrial- based economy.
He said the Prime Minister, with full understanding of the desire of the local people for Sarawak's companies to participate in the development of Pan Borneo highway project, is also committed to ensure that the project main contractor appoints local contractors to undertake the job.
The highway, when completed within the period of eight years, will not impose any toll on road users. It will have tremendous impact in the overall efforts to transform rural areas towards the year 2030 with the state own agenda to become the most prosperous state in Malaysia.
The construction and completion of Pan Borneo Highway will further strengthen the existing transportation network and logistics system and help to integrate the rural and urban economies especially in the movement of goods and people.
This will help to reduce the costs of transportation resulting in lower costs of doing business and make Sarawak to become a more competitive place to do business in the country.
The highway will be built on land, which may belong to people. As a matter of policy, the Government will pay compensation to people, whose lands are being used for the purpose; compensation has been provided for. This has been the practice for many years; compensation will be paid to people, who deserve it.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan, said the Federal Government has allocated some money for the purpose. The land owners, who lands will be acquired for the development of the highway, will be paid appropriate compensation.
He said the federal government has also agreed to provide funding to improve and undertake the construction of logging roads in the remote areas under the Jiwa Murni projects. The Minister of Defense, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, in a letter to him, said the Federal Government would undertake to improve the timber roads, provided the State Government would pay the maintenance after three years.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan pledged to use the Immigration power judiciously to cordon the sanctity of the State from religious extremists of any faiths to come to Sarawak, which is well known for religious tolerance and racial harmony. The various ethnic groups have co-existed peacefully and have high respect of each other’s religion, culture and tradition.
The State government has the primary responsibility to safeguard the unity and the solidarity of the people, who must continue to live together to enjoy the prosperity in the State. The tradition of living in peace in spite of diversity must be preserved as a unique characteristic of Sarawak as an example for others to follow.
The State is being blessed with many races with Malay/Melanau in the majority. The others include Chinese, Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu and other Dayak groups, who have the tradition of living in peace and harmony together. All of them realize that Sarawak is big enough for everybody.
The racial and religious polarization, which is rearing its ugly head in Peninsular Malaysia, is not healthy and must be kept out of Sarawak. It is within the State’s power, with the Immigration autonomy, to exclude or permit people to enter Sarawak including fellow Malaysians.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the State Government, being led by him as the previous Government, would zealously protect the State’s autonomy in the federation. It would go back to the constitution to settle matters and with regard to Sarawak as a partner in the formation of Malaysia. There could be no alteration of the boundaries of Sarawak without the consent of the State to be expressed by a law to be passed by this august House as required by Article 2.
For example, the policy decisions of the National Land Council and the National Council for Local Government shall not be binding on Sarawak; the national development shall not apply to Sarawak without the concurrence of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, (Article 95E).
He said the rights of the State Government to control the entry and residence in the State by non Sarawakians remain embedded in Article 61E(4). Even if Dewan Rakyat amends the article with a 2/3 majority, it will not be able to abolish the immigration power without the consent of the State.
This is one of the safeguard or the entrenched provision of the constitution. No amendment shall be made to the Federal Constitution in respect of the executive and legislative powers vested in the State like religion and the special treatment of natives without the concurrence of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri [Article 161E(2) (c) and (d)] on the advice of the Government.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan said revenues from the natural resources such as timber royalty, water rates, land or quit rent and premium, which are assigned to the State, cannot be taken away without the concurrence of the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri by virtue of Article 161E(2)(c).
He said the Federal-State relationship must be conducted in the spirit of mutual trust and respect for each other's constitutional rights, duties, authorities and powers. It ought to be on a consultative mode and not a confrontational approach so as to promote national harmony, peace, solidarity and stability.
The Federal –State relationship should be on the basis of what is constitutionally defined like the State's rights must not be taken away and the State must be accorded what is due to it as decreed by the Constitution. Therefore, all concerned must take the constitutional position.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan said 97 Federal Departments out of the total of 166 are being headed by Sarawakians. The State Government, while acknowledging heads of federal departments from Peninsular Malaysia, who serve the people well and contribute towards the development of Sarawak, would pursue the appointments of more Sarawakians to serve the whole State in the Federal capacity.
The local officers have proven to be very capable of administering the State as Heads of Ministries and Departments. In fact, over the years, Sarawak was fortunate to have outstanding, loyal and dedicated public officers, who had faithfully served the State with distinction.
Sarawak is also being served by the Federal departments and agencies, which have been
established by the Federal Government to serve the Rakyat and work with the State Departments and agencies in the implementation of Federal development projects.
They provide services such as health care, education, security, issuance of passports, birth and death certificates and others, which the Federal Government is duty bound to provide to the Rakyat in the State.
The State Government believes it to be a very positive move to appoint more Sarawakians as Heads of Federal Departments and agencies in fostering national integration. Certainly,
such appointments would help to ensure that the Federal departments and agencies could develop a better understanding of the needs, expectations and problems of the Rakyat
Datuk Patinggi Adenan said human capital and technical training would remain the main agenda of development thrust to spearhead the success of industrialization. It is imperative to prepare and train more people to become skilled workers to meet the need of industries.
In this regards, the State will establish more technical training centers and at the same time, fine tune the quality of existing programs and courses to suit the requirements of industries in various fields namely manufacturing, agriculture and services.
The local people must be able to grab opportunities arising from more investment coming into the State. The industries demand workers that are highly skilled and technically competent. All the employment opportunities must be filled by the local people and not by foreign workers; priority must be given to local people.
He said the State Government will complement efforts of the Federal Government in technical and vocational trainings. In this respect Yayasan Sarawak has been tasked to collaborate with other agencies in spearheading technical trainings in the State.
Datuk Patinngi Adenan, who is also the Minister of Resource Planning and Environment, said the passage of Forest Bill 2015 was the manifestation of the State Government’s resolute commitment to strengthen forest management that takes into account the environment and welfare of the local community. More importantly, the implementation of the law will help to combat and eliminate illegal logging and improve basic management in the world.
Regrettably, the State has been the victim to criticisms regarding the management of the forest by foreign NGOs. They have been quite successful in giving Sarawak a bad name internationally.
Datuk Patinggi Adenan said the foreign NGOs concerned, if they are truly concerned with the local forest, should come forward to give their views and criticize the State. A few reputable ones like Worldwide Life Fund and World Conservation Fund have made initiatives to come forward.
He suspected that Bruno Manser Fond has its own agenda, which is not forest. Their agenda is someone else. He is not interested in that. He is interested in NGOs whose real concern is the preservation of forest.
Sarawak Monitor9 October 2015