Four industries have been identified to spearhead the discussions at the Sarawak Dialogue, as they hold much importance to the state and also will provide huge opportunities to participants and their companies. Whilst they are important on their own merits, yet they are synergistically connected with one industry’s progress, at the same time also helping with the improvement of the other.
With the creation of the right environment and all its people being digital-savvy, Sarawak can enjoy a new dimension of economic development and growth. Across the board, Sarawak wants to build a world-class ICT infrastructure, and is already addressing its ICT infrastructure covering broadband reach and speed, to ensure every village and settlement is covered and not left in the dark. The E-Commerce Transformation Plan will prepare all youth to have the necessary resources and capabilities to become the world-class entrepreneurs and businessmen that the state needs. Underlining the CM’s commitment to this industry who will personally drive the progress of this industry, RM1 billion has already been invested in this industry to work on the ICT infrastructure, and with this the call for reliable companies and partners to help out in this particular industry. In turn, an allocation of RM10 million a year is set aside specially for young people involved in start-ups, this being the Sarawak Digital Start-up Fund.
The state alone makes up almost 38 per cent of Malaysia’s land mass. Lush tropical rainforests, mangrove jungles along its coasts, rolling mountain ranges and long tracts of rivers still make many of its villages unreachable except by air travel or through days of tracking over logging trails. Hence, connectivity remains a priority on the state government’s agenda, with emphasis being placed on the building of good roads, airports, ports, waterways, and even upgrading of existing roads and highways. The Pan Borneo Highway, linking Sarawak to Sabah through Brunei, is a large scale infrastructural project that stands to open up many new townships and socio-economic opportunities for various communities along its route.
Sarawak is set to open up its own state-owned offshore Oil & Gas corporation, to ensure that both upstream exploration and downstream marketing operations are handled by its very own entities. Sarawak will work with leading Malaysian corporation Petronas to explore and create opportunities in this area for exchange of knowledge and partnerships as the state looks towards greater independence. In fact, Petronas has committed a value of RM2.1 billion worth of contracts for Sarawak companies each year. And annually, since 2013, Petronas has extend around RM16 million worth of contracts to Sarawak companies.
The lure of the state’s rainforests and wildlife, diverse ethnic groups and their unique culture and cuisine offer an unforgettable experience covering adventure, nature and culture. World-class hospitality brands and international airlines have made it more accessible for travellers to enjoy the local tourist attractions and festivals, although it is still considered slightly off the beaten track of many mainstream destinations.
Every citizen is to be given the right to basic education opportunities, leading to further education delving in research and development areas, that would thereon create a knowledge-based society and highly-skilled workforce. Besides partnering current education establishments in the state, new institutions are being encouraged to consider Sarawak as a choice and condusive educational regional hub.
Besides ensuring the state’s Health facilities are sufficient for its own people, there are also opportunities for Sarawak to attract international health and medical brands to set up base within the state, not only to serve its very own people, but strive to become a regional health player too.