KUCHING: Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said Sarawak has over the years made great strides in economic development and maintained a positive economic growth at 3.2 percent in 2016 despite facing global uncertainties and low crude oil prices.
He said with state exports having also improved in 2017 along with the economic improvement in other parts of the world, the state’s economy is also expected to improve further between 3.5% to 4.0%.
The chief minister said that Sarawak’s GDP per capita stood at RM46, 514 and the state’s external trade worth RM116.3 billion in 2016 reminded that the challenges ahead was how to propel the economy to greater heights, to achieve a high income and advanced economy by 2030.
“We want to ensure that as our economy expands, it will provide more direct impacts and increase the income of our people,” the Chief Minister said in his speech at Yang Dipertua Negeri Sarawak Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s 81st birthday parade and rally at Celebration Square, Jalan Stadium, Petra Jaya here today.
Hence, Abang Johari said the state government will continue with the policies laid out by the Yang Dipertua Negeri (Tun Taib) when he was the Chief Minister of Sarawak, especially in the education field.
Abang Johari said in the field of education, the government was very much aware that all that were being planned cannot materialise if the state dooes not have and does not develop its human capital.
He said steps were being taken to develop technical and vocational training (Tvet) to cater to the needs of industries by setting up Tvet centres in addition to those provided by the federal government.
“Our pursuit towards digitising Sarawak’s economy needs different kind of expertise which is very limited or we still do not have and for this reason I have asked Yayasan Sarawak to offer bursaries to new disciplines of studies through the Tun Taib Education Bursary to develop expertise in various fields through the activities of research and development in research universities and institutions in the country and overseas,” Abang Johari said.
He said Yayasan Sarawak now had the capacity to offer loans and scholarships, including those for meant for research at Masters and PhD levels from a mere RM9 million previously.
Yayasan Sarawak, he said, is now inviting applications for at least 23 courses involving research including biochemistry, genetics, molecular biology, cloud computing, data analytics, Big Data and Telemetry, software engineering, micro-biology, human-computer interaction, and so on.
He said these are new courses that the government has decided to offer scholars in order to prepare the future development of Sarawak through the digital economy.
On another matter, Abang Johari said the people of Sarawak of all races and religions have the right to enjoy development, whether they are in the rural or urban areas.
“Religion and race have never become an issue among the people of Sarawak and let it not be an issue in our pursuit to develop Sarawak.
“As the chief minister for all races in Sarawak I will always ensure that every qualified and experience Sarawakian will be given due consideration for positions in the private and public sector.
“We have been sharing for such a long time and let this spirit of sharing last forever,” he streseed
He said that even though there maybe differences in opinions that should not be a stumbling block for the people of the state to be united in making Sarawak a developed state.
In paying tribute to the Yang Dipertua Negeri, Abang Johari said: “The position of His Excellency as the Head of State is not a mere figurehead like we used to make it out to be”.
“Our Head of State is an institution which is not separate from our effort in pursuit of development in Sarawak. Our Head of State has been our constant guide and counsel in our continuous pursuit of progress and advancement. The institution of our TYT has played no small role in bringing about unity, harmony and prosperity to Sarawak.
“It is an institution that serves to unite our diverse people so that progress and development can take place smoothly for the benefit of all of us Sarawakians. It is much like the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, whose birthday we are also celebrating today that serves to unite people from all corners of Malaysia,” said the chief minister. — Bernama