Speeches
18th Meeting of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Kuching Sarawak Winding Up Speech
Deliver on 18 Jul 2018

Click here for winding up Speech by YAB CM on 18th July 2018 at 18th Meeting of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Sarawak pdf files.


Winding Up Speech

by

YAB Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg,

Chief Minister of Sarawak,

on

18th July 2018

at

18th Meeting of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Kuching, Sarawak.




Contents

Salutation                                                                                        3
Preamble                                                                                         4
GE14 and Political Relations                                                     6
PM’s Visit to Sarawak                                                                  9
Petroleum                                                                                     10
Financial Reserves                                                                    14
Economy                                                                                       15
Rural Development                                                                    16
My Commitment to Basic Infrastructure and Amenities  19
Agriculture and Rural Economy                                             22
Land Code Amendment                                                            24
Sustainable Environment                                                         27
Urban Development                                                                   28
Digital Technology                                                                     31
Tourism                                                                                         34
Businesses and Investors                                                        36
Conclusion                                                                                    37

Winding Up Speech

by

YAB Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg, the Chief Minister of Sarawak,

on 18th July 2018

at the 18th Meeting of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Kuching, Sarawak

Salutation


Bismillahirahmanirahim.

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatu dan Salam Sejahtera

 

Tuan Speaker,

Honourable Members of the august House,

Preamble


Dalam ucapan penggulungan saya kali ini, saya tidak akan menyentuh beberapa perkara spesifik kerana perkara tersebut sudah disentuh oleh Menteri-Menteri yang bertanggungjawab.
Terlebih dahulu saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Tuan Yang Terutama Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak atas ucapan Pembukaan Pertama Penggal Ketiga Dewan Undangan Negeri Sarawak yang Kelapan Belas.
Saya juga ingin mengucapkan tahniah kepada Timbalan Ketua Menteri Sarawak, Yang Berhormat Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas atas kelulusan Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018. 

Tahniah juga saya ucapkan kepada Timbalan Ketua Menteri Sarawak, Yang Berhormat Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Bin Ali Hassan atas kelulusan       The Oil Mining (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

Tuan Speaker,

I am happy to be speaking to all the Honourable Members of this august House in my capacity as Chief Minister.
As you know, our job in this august House is to serve the people of Sarawak by making good laws in the interest of Sarawak and by strengthening our economy so that all Sarawakians have an opportunity to a decent standard of living for themselves and their families.
As Chief Minister, my job is to provide the leadership in ensuring that Sarawak is headed in the right directions and that the interests of Sarawak and the Sarawak people are well protected.

 

Tuan Speaker,

GE14 and Political Relations


The 14th Malaysian General Election held on        9th May 2018 has resulted in the change of Government at the Federal level.
I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate Yang Amat Berhormat Tun Pehin Sri Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad for his appointment as the seventh Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Tuan Speaker,

While the Sarawak Government continues to ensure the progress of Sarawak, as a component entity in Malaysia, Sarawak will still be influenced by the national policies of the Federal Government.

These national policies concern the Federal budget and the allocation of funds for development, education and healthcare, order and security,        the interest rate, the exchange rate, the bank lending policy, and many others.
The Sarawak Government will work closely with the new Federal Government under the premiership of Yang Amat Berhormat Tun Pehin Sri Dr. Mathathir bin Mohamad in the interests of Sarawak and for the people of Sarawak. We will develop good working relationships with Putrajaya.
With constant engagement, we wish to convince the new Federal Government that what it is trying to accomplish at the national level can also be achieved by the Sarawak Government at the state level.
After all, as a matter of fact, during GE14, the Sarawak parties in the current Government won     19 out of the 31 seats, which give us a majority of 61%.
With the strategic interests of Sarawak in mind, this Government has decided to position itself in a neutral and friendly way to the Pakatan Harapan Government in Putrajaya by leaving Barisan Nasional and forming Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).
The formation of GPS allows our State Government to work closely with the Federal Government, especially on development and economic programmes so that the well-being of Sarawakians can be taken care of.
GPS will not be the old Barisan Nasional encased in new skin. GPS is patriotic Sarawak parties regrouping and adjusting ourselves to the new paradigm that is being set by the Pakatan Harapan Government. GPS is about being dynamic and versatile.


Tuan Speaker,

PM’s Visit to Sarawak


It is with great honour for Sarawak that the Prime Minister Yang Amat Berhormat Tun Pehin Sri Dr. Mathathir bin Mohamad visited Kuching and the Sarawak Government only just last Sunday, so soon after resuming his premiership role.
The Prime Minister was impressed by the progress that Sarawak has made throughout all parts of the State all these years in many ways.
He saw Kuching as a well-planned city but this time with many more cars on the road.
The Prime Minister noted that Sarawak has a lot of potential for development and growth, and has been able to attract many investors including big foreign investors.
He saw the pace of development of Sarawak to be dictated by the way the natural resources as assets of Sarawak will be used.
The Prime Minister said Sarawak can capitalise on our many rivers which can be made to become an economic power engine of growth in terms of riverine transportation, power generation and source of water supply.
He noted that the focus on the development of natural resources such as rivers and land also means the need to take care of the environment.

Tuan Speaker,

Petroleum


An issue of great economic and emotional appeal to Sarawakians is our right to our resources and legislation including those relating to petroleum.



This issue has been simmering in the hearts of Sarawakians since 1974 when the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) was first promulgated in Parliament.
For the record, this august House has never endorsed that PDA 1974.
Our goal now is to restore to Sarawak our rights that are enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement of 1963 – the international treaty between Sarawak, Sabah, Singapore and Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia which puts Sarawak as an equal partner with Malaya and Sabah.
Among those rights are the rights of Sarawak to our own legislations, including those that were enacted before the formation of the Federation.
The Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance of 1958 is one such good law which still remains in force today.



The Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 gives Sarawak full regulatory authority over all persons and companies involved in the operations of the oil and gas industry in Sarawak.
Petronas applied to the Federal Court to seek a declaration that the Sarawak Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 was already repealed implicitly by the Petroleum Development Act. We are glad that this application to seek the declaration in the Federal Court was rejected by the Federal Court on         22nd June 2018.
In the meantime, Sarawak is proceeding to enforce the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 and the Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016 effective 1st July 2018 through the Sarawak Minerals and Management Authority or SMMA of Petroleum Sarawak Bhd or PETROS.
The provisions for enforcement are tightened by the Oil Mining (Amendment) Bill 2018 passed in this august House last week on 10th July 2018.
With the Gas Distribution Ordinance, the Sarawak Government will work closely with the Federal Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and Petronas regarding the distribution of natural gas to consumers in Sarawak.
We hope that Petronas can understand the position that the Sarawak Government is taking.
We wish to assure oil and gas industry players in Sarawak that the Sarawak Government is reasonable and is business friendly.
The Sarawak Government expects Petronas to be friendly and co-operative. After all, Pakatan Harapan in its GE14 manifesto promised to deliver to Sarawak a petroleum royalty of 20%, up from 5%. This indicates that the Pakatan Harapan Federal Government favours Sarawakians in its dealings, at the very least, in regard to petroleum.


Tuan Speaker,

Financial Reserves


The financial reserves of Sarawak, which are partly accumulated from petroleum revenue, are being accumulated for the purpose of safeguarding Sarawak.
We have to protect these reserves, by ensuring that they are being put into productive investments.
Some have suggested in the past that the reserves should be put as a sovereign fund by investing in the paper and assets of foreign countries and companies.
We can also use our reserves to build our own economy by investing in projects with good commercial returns and minimal risks. For this, we need world-class financial and investment experts who know their jobs.


Tuan Speaker,

Economy


After politics, the next most important consideration for the Sarawak Government to take care of is the economy.
In economics, there are always two aspects that we cannot ignore: development and growth.
In development, our concern is in ensuring that all communities have access to basic infrastructure and amenities.
In economic growth, our concern is also to all communities in their access to basic infrastructure for production and export so that they are encouraged to invest at home in Sarawak.


Tuan Speaker,

Rural Development


Development in Sarawak has been very challenging: firstly, because of our huge landmass and, secondly, because of the many small and scattered villages in remote parts of Sarawak, now numbering some 5,000 villages.
This is the result of the evolution of traditional communities in Sarawak, where each community would find their means of living by a small river tributary which they could call their own.
They depended very much on Mother Nature for their sustenance.
Many villages would gather and hunt in nearby forests and plant whatever they could in surrounding areas mostly by shifting cultivation in order to retain the fertility of the soil.
Over time, these basic cultivation procedures and way of life form an intricate part of the culture of these communities, as their traditional form of survival.
In the modern times of today, however, many rural communities want to modernise their way of life.
It is inevitable that they will also have to deal more with issues concerning capital, precision farming, exports, business models and logistics.
There is a need for a great leap forward among our communities in the hinterland to the modern world.
In the past, the Federal Government has been making development allocation according to the size of our population which is generally taken to be about 10% of the total Malaysian population.
This development allocation may be sufficient for social projects but is clearly not sufficient to develop a landmass which is 38% that of the Malaysia total landmass.
This accounts for the relative lack of basic infrastructure and the current backwardness in the development of our rural communities.
This is a major error which I hope the new Federal Government can correct in their relationship with us.
The new Federal Government must increase the development allocations to Sarawak by at least four times. This will allow Sarawak to speedily upgrade our rural infrastructure including roads, drinking water, electricity and the internet, schools and medical clinics, and agricultural and economic programmes.
In this connection, I wish to congratulate the new Federal Works Minister, Yang Berhormat Encik Baru Bian, for his appointment. I wish also to urge him, in the performance of his official duties, to ensure that Sarawak, his home State, be given its proper and due allocations for development and infrastructure works.

Tuan Speaker,

My Commitment to Basic Infrastructure and Amenities


Since becoming Chief Minister 19 months ago in January 2017, I have travelled the length and breadth of Sarawak and to more than 60 locations in the rural areas.
I am saddened to see that so much work still needs to be done in trying to solve the problems faced by our people in their everyday lives.
Even though I have been part of the government that looks after Sarawak more than 30 years ago, I had been unable to be totally involved in the planning and development of all issues that needed to be done, by nature of the limited individual involvement in government, of our respective portfolios and areas of focus.

Now that I am the Chief Minister and in a position to have an overall view and total involvement, I can assure you that I am now fully committed to ensuring that our people are no longer deprived of their basic needs and the opportunity to a better and more prosperous life.
I have been shocked and unhappy that many areas in Sarawak are still in need of treated water as they do not have access to it.
I put the blame on the practice of the previous Federal Government of funding water supply projects by way of reimbursable and loans. We were totally at the mercy of the Ministry concerned. It fully controlled the disbursement of funds.
If they had no funds to provide the loans, there would be no projects for water supply. And if they had the funds, very often the funds would be disbursed at the end of the year which made planning and implementation almost impossible.
It was as if there was a deliberate effort on the part of previous federal agencies to sabotage the development of Sarawak.
In order for Sarawak to be self-determined in our development efforts, I have decided early this year that the Sarawak Government will fund all water projects in the State, just like we do for our electricity supply which is fully under our own control.
This is why, since taking over as the Chief Minister of Sarawak, I have announced roads, bridges and other projects all over Sarawak totalling about RM5.0 billion.
I also have announced an immediate RM2.0 billion allocation to solve all water-stressed areas which must be completed latest by early next year. I will personally monitor every minute the implementation and progress of these projects.


Tuan Speaker,

Agriculture and Rural Economy


We often think that agriculture and the rural economy are one and the same thing, when in fact they are not. Unless we think of traditional agriculture which of course started in the rural economy.
Modern agriculture does not depend very much on the ordinary farmer to work.  Modern agriculture depends on modern technology to drive production efficiency and these can be operated out of major industrial parks, rather than in small villages in the remote areas.
Modern farming is precision farming. While modern farming depends on agriculture and digital technology to work, it is more agriculture than digital.



For the rural economy, while we may think that it is largely agriculture, it may not necessarily be the case. Most the agriculture in the rural economy is subsistence farming which feeds only the farmers’ own families.
They are far away from the nearest markets. Their remoteness often does not allow their commercial viability. It will be a mistake to think of expanding their small operations with surplus to sell in the market.
But we see today even in Sarawak that the rural economy is also agriculture on an industrial scale. The large plantations are not farming but industrial complexes that utilises land as the platform for production.
But at least plantations which involve investment in planting are a far better activity than logging which is pure extraction as efforts in restoring the conditions of the forests in Sarawak has failed.
The rural economy can therefore be developed by encouraging investment across all sectors, be it agriculture, light industries or services, with a proper management of the natural environment. This is now made possible by the advent of the digital technology and connectivity to the rest of the world.

Tuan Speaker,

Land Code Amendment


The Land Code (Amendment) Bill, 2018 was passed in this august House last week on 12th July 2018 after much debate among the Honourable Members of the august House the day before.
The amendment to the Land Code came about because of a problem in law which said that there was no “force of law” for native customary rights over communal land issues.

The purpose of the amendment to the land code therefore is to provide that force of law for communities that want to claim rights for communal land.
Our intention is good and the Sarawak Government being inclusive wants to ensure that the rights of all ethnic groups in Sarawak, including Iban, Orang Ulu, Bidayuh, Malay and Melanau, also have their customary rights over traditional considerations with regard to communal land.
Once the native customary right – or the new legal term “Native Territorial Domain” – is established, the Sarawak Government will issue a Native Communal Title for that domain in perpetuity to the respective native community but not to individuals.

Because the Native Communal Title is issued to the respective native community, it is argued that in some cases the limit of 500 hectares may not be sufficient and that limit should be increased to 1,000 hectares. The Sarawak Government will start the process in considering this request for a limit of 1,000 hectares. Bear in mind that the 1,000 hectares is a limit, not an entitlement.
The Native Communal Title will then be treated just like any title granted under the Land Code. This therefore brings the NCR-type land in Sarawak up to be at par with modern land treatment so that the due process of law can be applied to it, especially when it involves private commercial dealings.
By providing this new mechanism for land development, the Sarawak Government hopes to spur the development of large chunks of land in the hinterland of Sarawak and bring wealth to the ethnic groups and other investors.

 

Tuan Speaker,

Sustainable Environment


My administration will continue to stop the issuance of new timber licences. Vast tracts of the forest have already been logged and they have been very difficult to restore.
Worse still is the stripping of the forests of all their vegetation by plywood factories operating deep in the forests, ostensibly to clear the land for the planting of oil palm. As such, therefore, there will be no more new palm oil plantation licences except for NCR land.
We shall continue to fight illegal logging. Not only are they just stealing timber in areas which are not licensed to them, but they are also intruding into forest reserve areas. If unchecked, we may have no more forest reserves of any kind, fully protected or otherwise. We must protect our protected forests if we want to retain any of our indigenous virgin jungle.

Tuan Speaker,

Urban Development


As we focus to bring modernity to rural communities, we must not forget that 60% of our population is in the urban centres. We must create jobs and business opportunities in urban centres.

As we have the rural poor, we also have the urban poor where there is a shortage of affordable housing as well as the incomes to pay for the housing mortgages.
The urban centres are also where most of the talents are and this is the place which we must develop to ensure the sustained growth of our economy.

Whether we like it or not, the rural urban migration is real, where young people from the villages all flock to the towns and cities attracted by the bright light to look for better opportunities.
We must develop our urban centres. If we do not, then our young people will look for opportunities in urban centres overseas.

I must continue to emphasise the importance of increasing the competitiveness of our urban centres.

Competitiveness can be improved by building the critical mass of people and talent so that there are sufficient numbers to support the economic viability of public infrastructure projects, chief of which is the public transport system.

A well-planned public transport system reduces the cost of living in a city and this attracts people to come and live there.

A good public transport system forms the foundation for the expansion of the city in terms of commercial and residential property development.

A growing city plans for growth by making the city attractive and by building its capacity to absorb more residents.

Around the world, this has in fact become the major job function of city councils as they compete to attract young talents from everywhere to come and live there and contribute to the prosperity of the cities.

A good public transport comprises an assortment of transportation system which includes the Bus Rapid Transit, the Light Rail Transit, private cars, taxis and cyclists.

The pace of development of our public transportation depends on the growth of our urban population and the need for affordable housing. We have to get our numbers and business model right to ensure that the project is at least economically viable.

At the moment, we do not have a major public transportation problem as such. But we do need to plan ahead on our public transport infrastructure if we want to see urban centres especially Kuching grow in a decisively manner so that Kuching will become a major cosmopolitan city where talents from around Sarawak and the world converge and prosper.

A properly planned Kuching City can become a major area of opportunities for young Sarawakians.

Tuan Speaker,

Digital Technology


I have in the last 18 months since assuming my present office on 13th January 2017 introduced several innovative ideas to try to put our State economy in a different and hopefully a better paradigm.

First and foremost is the application of the digital technology as an enabler to a new dimension of the economy which we have called the Digital Economy.

The importance of the digital technology is that this is the very foundation around which the lives of millennial and modern people revolve.

We must be in the digital world in order to tap the significant market of the millennial. It is for this reason that I have been pushing for a more comprehensive and adequate network coverage within Sarawak.

But the development of the network coverage infrastructure is one of the many elements that are needed to create new economic sectors or new structures of the economy through the application of the digital technology.

The development of the digital technology sector is one where only the best of the best in the world stands any chance of winning. For the rest of us,    we shall have to be content with the application of existing digital technology.

While those involved in digital technology are in a position to spearhead new digital growth areas, the application of digital technology to traditional sectors would still very much be dictated by the experts in the respective non-digital industry fields.

After all, there is still a need for proper business models in order to ensure that projects are commercially viable. The digital technology,       while important, acts only as an enabler to improving efficiency whereas the business of making money must still lie with the investors.



Tuan Speaker,

Tourism


Tourism is often envisages as a panacea to cure all economic ills connected to growth. We imagine that by having tourists to come to Sarawak, the economy will suddenly light up and everybody will be happily serving the tourists and prosper.
There are many facets to tourism, both good and bad. We as Government must ensure that we develop the positive part of tourism while minimising the negative effects.

For example, mass tourism destroys natural beauties through human heat, human feet and plastic waste. Mass tourism disrupts the life of closely-knit communities as they demand services from the host communities when, in fact, ultimately, most of the services will be provided by foreign workers.

Sarawak has the luxury of contemplating more tourism because our tourism industry is still very much in its infancy stage. We have many natural beauties in remote areas and we are keen to attract more visitors.

A key element to the way for us in Sarawak to promote tourism is to brand it properly to the right market segment, and to price our tourism products properly.

Far too often, the Government spends good money on building infrastructure in remote areas only for these facilities to be under-priced as a result of poor packaging. Sarawak should place a premium on our exotic locations and world-class service. Sarawak should be properly branded in the global scene.

 

Tuan Speaker,

Businesses and Investors


While the Government has been introducing many initiatives to spearhead new directions for the economy, it is critical that the private sector is also fully engaged for it to come on board to drive the growth of the Sarawak economy.

Politicians and government servants can at best provide the direction and framework for the economy, but it is the private sector that must do all the hard work of getting things moving.

We must not pretend that, with the few government projects that we implement will do the economy good. What we spend in development expenditure is only a tiny fraction of the size of our economy of RM114 billion.

The key to the prosperity of the Sarawak economy is the involvement of the Sarawak entrepreneurs in investing in projects in Sarawak.

My Government will step up our efforts in promoting entrepreneurship and investment among Sarawakians who are keen to develop and implement their projects.

Because we need all the local investments that we can get, I wish to emphasise that my Government will help all Sarawakians regardless of race.

We must continue to close the gaps we have among our races and cooperate to work for Sarawak together.

Tuan Speaker,

Conclusion


We are now living in a new Malaysia and I think these are exciting times. We shall work hard to ensure that Sarawak will continue to exert our rights.


We shall work hard to deliver to our people in the rural communities with basic infrastructure and well-being. We shall work hard to deliver to our people in the urban centres with investment and job opportunities.

We shall work closely together with the new Federal Government which promises to be fair and efficient. The Sarawak Government will consider providing allocation under Minor Rural Projects (MRP) to individual PH members, as a reciprocal allocation should the Federal Government provide similar allocation to GPS members.

We shall also work closely together among ourselves here in Sarawak, as we develop Gabungan Parti Sarawak, forging new alliances in the interests of Sarawak and for the benefit of all Sarawakians.

I therefore would like to announce that the Sarawak Government will allocate a ceiling of RM1 million for each GPS ADUN for their respective constituencies to implement Program Baik Pulih Rumah under Program Perumahan Rakyat Termiskin (PPRT) in 2018.

Most of all, we shall continue to improve our policies and to run our government institutions professionally so that our economy is capable of creating good jobs, especially for our brightest and best.

Saya mengambil kesempatan ini untuk mengucapkan terima kasih kepada Tuan Speaker yang telah mengendalikan persidangan Dewan Undangan Negeri dengan cemerlang. Saya juga ingin mengucapkan Selamat Hari Sarawak yang akan kita sambut pada 22 Julai 2018.

Saya sudahi dengan ucapan Wabillahitaufik Walhidayah Wassalamualaikum Warahnatullahi Wabarakatuh. Terima kasih.

Speeches By: YAB Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg