Emphasis on digital economy should not be at the expense of basic infrastructure – Baru


The emphasis on digital economy and the eagerness to follow in the footsteps of Estonia, which is becoming the ‘leading force of digitisation in the world’, should not be at the expense of basic infrastructure and facilities for the people of Sarawak.

Ba’Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian said it was incongruous to talk about technological advancement and digital revolution when many rural folks are still being educated in dilapidated schools, isolated from the major towns by poor roads, drinking untreated and cloudy water, have poor access to healthcare, and no access to grid electricity.

“What does the digital economy mean to the rural population? What does e-commerce offer them when they do not even have proper roads to send their produce to be sold in the towns?

“It is well and good to be ambitious, but are the conditions in Sarawak the same as those in Estonia?” he questioned when debating on the State Budget today.

Baru concurred that Estonia is known to be a small country with one of the freest economies in the world, excellent transportation links, strong rule of law with an independent and efficient judicial system, low public debt/GDP ratio, high regulatory efficiency focusing on enhancing labor productivity and employment growth, and most interestingly, a superior education system based on equity, that is giving equal opportunities to students of all backgrounds.

He, however, said Sarawak still has a long way to go before the government can claim to meet the same conditions as exist in Estonia.

“We need to first put in place the physical infrastructure. For example, when China decided to embrace modernisation, the first thing they did was to build roads.

“As I pointed out in this august House in 2012, a World Bank paper states that ‘highway construction can be conceived as the laying down of a “prerequisite” for further development.

“As such, it permits and invites, rather than compel, other activities to follow suit,” he said.



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