March 15, 2007 00:14 AM
Sarawak Implementing 2nd Wave Of Development
KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 (Bernama) – The Sarawak state government is now implementing policies for its second wave of development which forms the political development plan to enable the state to progress in line with the other states.
Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the plan was crucial for Sarawak to narrow down the economic divide between the state and the other states which had achieved development earlier.
"The plan is most important for Sarawak because 25 years ago we had the second highest poverty rate of 40 per cent compared with only 20 per cent for peninsular Malaysia.
“We also had less infrastructure to enable us to diversify the economy so that we could achieve a more balanced development in the various sectors such as the industrial sector, tourism and other more sophisticated fields,” he said when interviewed on the program “Bicarawara Bersama Menteri” aired on RTM1 tonight.
He said Sarawak had carried out the first wave of development which took 20 years since 1985 and about RM2 billion of the state government’s money had been spent under the first wave to improve infrastructure especially roads so that more land and estates could be opened up.
Taib said the implementation of the first wave of development had given positive indication to the state’s economy which had grown stronger and was more diversified.
However, the government must find out the type of economy that had emerged after 20 years of implementing the development plan to ensure that the state’s economy would continue to be strong.
As such, he said, future development efforts beginning with the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) would have greater focus on industries that were more complex, sophisticated and with more added value so that the economy could be diversified to enable the main economic sector, namely the service industry, to be enhanced.
Taib said among the programs being implemented were the Tanjung Manis Corridor which was important for the fisheries sector, the development of hydro-power at Bakun and coal which could be found in the Mukah area.
“With these programs, I feel that all regions in Sarawak will be able to attain the developed status by 2020 because the existing development in the western and northern parts of Sarawak have proven to be successful,” he said.
Concentration had to be focused only on the central region with more development to be carried out for the next 15 years, including the interior areas of Kapit, Baram and Limbang, he said.
He said the 9MP which was being carried out and the other development plans that had been drawn up for the period up to 2020 would change the economic landscape of Sarawak from a production-based economy to one that was more modern and based on knowledge.
On the political aspects, Taib, when responding to a question from a caller, said he was still unable to relinquish the post of Chief Minister which he had held for the past 26 years as he said “the situation does not allow him to do so”.
“I had voiced my intention to retire last year, (but) the situation did not permit me (to do so), need to wait and prepare a team of new generation so that they can continue the efforts and policies that had been put in place to ensure that Sarawak can truly achieve the developed status by 2020,” he said.
Asked whether he had a candidate to succeed him, Taib, who is also president of Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), said he had groomed several candidates to take over for the past 10 years.
“But we just plan, and God decides… so we have to wait… we are looking for potentials within the party who can lead the party and the Sarawak government,” he said.
On the position of Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi, Minister in the prime Minister’s Department. Taib said his future in Sarawak could only be determined once his services at the federal level was no longer required.
“For the moment, Effendi is needed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, we will decide his future and will discuss when the Prime Minister no longer requires him,” the Chief Minister added.