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Bintulu Port, MASWings and Affin Bank the priorities this year
Published on: Tuesday, February 13, 2024
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Bintulu Port, MASWings and Affin Bank the priorities this year
Abang Johari said Sarawak is also transforming the way of producing hydro power.
KUCHING: Sarawak has set three targets for the Year of the Dragon – take over Bintulu Port, the country’s main port for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), MASWings as the state’s own airline and a major stake in Affin Bank to help local small and medium entrepreneurs.

Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said the acquisition of these three is crucial for uplifting Sarawak’s economic ecosystem.

“Firstly, as you may already be aware, after 43 years of its establishment we want to take back Bintulu Port from the Federal Government.

“This is not only because it should be under Sarawak’s power according to the constitution but also because Sarawak needs to comprehensively plan its port development that encompasses the whole of Sarawak, including its resource-rich hinterland.

“This is much like taking back Bakun Hydro from federal to enable us to be in control of the power to determine our own power tariff in order to attract investments in energy-intensive industries, especially in the Samalaju Industrial Zone near Bintulu.

“Secondly, we aspire to have an airline to serve not only our rural areas but also provide connectivity to selected Asian destinations. We need to invest in creating air links between Sarawak and the rest of the region not only to bring in tourists but also to facilitate air travel to boost business and investment in Sarawak.

“Sarawak is situated on an island and the only way to bring people in is to fly them in. I hope we can finalise the negotiation with federal soon and gain control of the airline within this year.

"Thirdly, we aspire to have a major stake in a commercial bank to provide Sarawak a financial platform to boost the economy further through the development of SMEs and entrepreneurship. Sarawak already has some stakes in this bank and we want to increase our stake.

“I am confident that we can conclude the negotiations soon so that we can participate actively in the running of the bank and be able to serve Sarawak’s interest well.

“These are the three strategic platforms to lift Sarawak’s economy to the next level,” he said.

Abang Johari said Sarawak is also transforming the way of producing hydro power.

“Sarawak’s strength lies in its wealth of natural resources that include water and sunlight.

We have harnessed about 3.5 gigawatt of our hydro potential with an overall potential of 20 gigawatt.

“For the future, we want to change the way of producing hydro power by using energy from running water instead of creating a large reservoir of water that would certainly flood a large area.

“We also want to harness in a big way the solar energy potential, particularly using floating solar panels in our hydro dam reservoirs.”

With Sarawak having a substantial amount of natural resources, the people must exploit this to their advantage wisely.

“It must be exploited in accordance with the goals set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that are meant not only to boost the economy as measured by the growth of GDP but also to benefit the people across the board.”

He said Sarawak is on the right track towards achieving advanced status by 2030.

Abang Johari said last year had been a good year as Sarawak achieved its plans.

He cited the setting up of Sarawak Sovereign and Future Wealth Fund (SSWF) with an initial seed capital of RM8 billion and progressive yearly appropriation of RM400 million to RM600 million until 2034 from the State Government as proof that the state has a sound financial policy.

“We are able to set up the SSWF because Sarawak has a strong economy and our revenue continues to rise to record figures.

“Last year, Sarawak’s revenue stood at RM13.3 billion and I believe it will continue to rise next year, and in the years ahead, as our economy continues to strengthen,” he added.

Abang Johari foresees the Chinese business community having a big role to play, saying they have always been an important part of the state’s political and economic life.

“As Premier, what I want to tell our Chinese friends and fellow Sarawakians is that the environment now is conducive for business to flourish and our beloved Sarawak is quite on its way to achieve a developed state status by 2030.

“With our political stability and social cohesiveness, I am confident we can achieve that, Insyallah.

“Let us not dwell on trivialities but always look at the bigger picture to enable Sarawak to stand tall as a strong economic force in Malaysia and in the region.”

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