Sarawak has formed a Sarawak Economic Action Council to facilitate the state government’s post Covid-19 exit economic strategy up to 2030, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg (pictured above).
He said the council will study the details of ten key propositions on developing its economic, social and governance sectors and obtain views from stakeholders such as chamber of commerce, professionals and academics to deliberate in details the various sectors in order to formulate action plans for achieving the new economic agenda for Sarawak after which the findings will then be submitted to the government by September 2020.
“The impact brought by the pandemic has resulted in the creation and emergence of ‘the new normal’ globally and we would not be able to do ‘business as usual’ anymore,” says Abang Johari. “This is the scenario that we have never experienced before and would require us to exercise a new way of doing things now and in the future.
“Therefore, we have reviewed our development strategies under the 12th Malaysia Plan to recover from the severe economic impact due to Covid-19 so as to remain resilient, adapting to ‘the new normal’ and promote future economic growth and development,” he told a press conference at Wisma Bapa Malaysia.
He says Sarawak will anchor on two core principles namely, digital economy and environmental sustainability.
“To enhance our economic productivity and competitiveness, we will intensify our Digital Economy Agenda across all sectors of Sarawak’s economy,” he continues. “Hence, a data centre plays a pivotal role in driving innovation in the digital application sphere.
“Sustainable environment will feature prominently in our future development plan. We will ensure that Sarawak achieves a clean, healthy, and resilient environment for the current and future generations.”
He explained that the two core principles consisted of the ten key propositions namely Data Centre and Innovation—The New Oil; Mining—The New Source of Revenue; High Productivity Commercial Agriculture and Commodity Sector; High Value Downstream Manufacturing; Re-greening Sarawak through Aggressive Industrial Forest Plantations; Beyond Leisure Tourism; Quality Social Services for the People; Renewable Energy—Fuel of the Future; and Aligning Education and Human Capital for the Future.
He said the state will increase the capacity of its Data Centre and Innovation to cater to the ever-increasing demands across all economic sectors domestically as well as global needs.
“The enhanced capacity will be further supported by ever growing need of digital services such as Digital ID, Digital Wallet, Big Data, Blockchain, Fintech, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence,” explains Abang Johari. “Our Data Centre and Innovation will be environmentally sustainable as it consumes renewable energy. Big Data will be the new oil of our economy.”
For mining, he said the state government will emphasize on this sector as Sarawak has abundant minerals and natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, silica sands, limestone and others as new sources of revenue.
“Our mining sector, particularly the oil and gas sector will utilize our Data Centre and Innovation to enhance its resources planning and deployment in place of conventional method. This will increase productivity and efficiency, and global good practices can be adopted by other mining sectors,” he adds, believing that the mining sector will be a new source of our revenue.
In agriculture, he says the focus will be on commercialization and modernization leveraging on latest technology and artificial intelligence to intensify and improved productivity.
“New business model will be introduced increase productions and productivity,” adds Abang Johari. “Increasing productivity in agriculture and commodity sector is key to this effort. New innovations especially precision farming with the application of Internet of Things as well as latest research and development applications will be intensified.”
He also says the manufacturing sector in Sarawak will be transformed for more value-added and downstream- processing activities especially in high technology, heavy industries, resource and non-resource based downstream industries as well as to build the capacity of the small, medium enterprises.
On the principle of environmental sustainability, he elaborated that Sarawak will focus on sustainable forest management through partnerships between government, businesses and the community.
“Among the key initiatives are aggressive industrial forest plantations; reforestation of degraded areas; and international certification of our forest management practices. This effort will help preserve and conserve our forest for the future and generate revenue for Sarawak. This will also make Sarawak globally recognized as contributor to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal’s decarbonization efforts,” he says.
He adds that the state would also be encouraging the use of renewable energy sources such as hydropower, solar, biomass, hydrogen and biogas to generate electricity to achieve balanced energy mix and reduce carbon emission.
He also acknowledges that post Covid-19, the tourism industry may take a longer time to recover and as such, the state will intensify its efforts to develop this sector through product developments and key initiatives which would include diversification into other tourism products beyond leisure tourism.
As for the wellbeing of the people, Abang Johari says new approaches are needed in key services sectors.
“For example, we need to introduce new housing policies to ensure healthy living. We need to develop new capabilities in healthcare sectors in the post Covid-19 era.”
He believes the country’s education system will build a talented workforce that is agile and adaptive to the ever-changing landscape of industries in Sarawak. “This is important for continuous innovation to sustain our economic growth. The other key sectors such as infrastructure, logistics, utilities, telecommunication, transport and welfare will be continued to support these key social and economic initiatives,” he says.
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