‘Abang Jo: A leader with courage, vision’

ONE AND UNITED: Abang Johari strikes a special pose with his deputies (from right), Uggah, Masing and Awang Tengah in this photo taken after the PBB special convention in Kuching on May 6 last year. — Photo by Tan Song Wei

ONE year is a very short time. If one were to plant a Musang King durian tree, it will not bear fruit in just one year — one would have to wait.

However as far as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is concerned, he has brought in many changes in Sarawak within that one year.

According to Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Sarawakians can see many things happening under Abang Johari, who heralds the dawn of a new era for Sarawak – the era of digital economy.

Uggah, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, says the digital economy era would put Sarawak on track towards becoming a developed state by 2030.

“Abang Johari has drawn a new policy on development programmes, which will bring about new opportunities, new hopes and a new spirit for Sarawak.

“The programmes are very clear. The policy is in-line with the latest technological development, driven by Information Communication Technology (ICT) and Industry 4.0,” says Uggah, adding that over a short time, the chief minister has initiated many new moves and at the same time, achieved major accomplishments such as the acquisition of the Bakun hydroelectricity power (HEP) dam.

“In the past, Bakun dam was the property of the federal government – today, it is ‘a jewel’ that belongs to Sarawak.”

Moreover, Uggah says no one has ever envisioned that the state government would one day have its own bank.

“I’m a former bank employee. I never thought that Sarawak would one day own a bank but today, we have the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS).”

Moreover, resource-rich Sarawak finally has its own oil and gas company, Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros) – an initiative done within less than a year under Abang Johari’s stewardship.

In the push towards digital economy, Uggah says the chief minister also forges ahead with the Rural Transformation Project (RTP) to build more roads, supply treated water, and connect villages with the power grid as he (Abang Johari) has never forgotten about the rural populace.

In addition, Uggah says Abang Johari has established Bukit Sadok Agropolitan, Highland Development Agency (HDA) and Upper Rajang Development Agency (Urda) for Sarawak to become an exporter of food under the ‘Food Basket’ initiative, stretching from Sarikei to Betong.

On criticism by members of the opposition, saying that Abang Johari’s push to develop digital economy is ‘merely hot air’, Uggah says the establishment of Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) and the launch of Sarawak Digital Economy Strategy Book 2018-2022 prove otherwise.

“What the chief minister has said is not hot air, but it is steadily taking shape and becoming reality. The chief minister has established the SMA and launched the Sarawak Digital Economy Strategy 2018-2022, with 47 programmes being lined up.

“This proves that Abang Johari is not merely talking, but is planning and executing strategies. It is not cheap rhetoric — it is to improve the lives of the people, including the rural populace,” he stresses.

Abang Johari, adds Uggah, has also shown that he is a very inclusive leader who looks after and cares for everyone regardless of ethnicity or religion, as shown by the RM15-million allocation to the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).

“This is not just an announcement, as many have received funds to build and repair their centres of worship,” Uggah says, while also pointing out the impending introduction of hydrogen-powered buses for Sarawak this year, the RM1-billion allocation to repair dilapidated schools across the state and subsequent approval of funds to help mission schools, as ‘other feathers in the chief minister’s hat’.

“He has a very clear vision for Sarawak and is very brave in standing up for our rights.”

Uggah is confident that Abang Johari would continue with the mission to reclaim Sarawak rights and continue to negotiate with the federal government on resolving all outstanding issues related to the compliance and upholding of the constitutional safeguards and special rights accorded to Sarawak, in accordance with the terms, intent and spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“All these success stories are a reflection of the chief minister’s leadership. He is a leader for all – not only for PBB members,” says Uggah, adding that Sarawak is very fortunate to have a leader of such quality and integrity.

“I have known him since 1978 when we contested as vice-chief of PBB Youth. There were three slots — one for the Ibans, one for the Malay and one for the Bidayuhs. He helped me win, and he himself won, as did one of our friends who is no longer with us today.

“From that day on, I know that he is a very committed leader with very high integrity – one who uses his power to help the ‘rakyat’ (people), not to enrich himself.”

Abang Johari, adds Uggah, has worked very hard to unite PBB; hence, the reason why the party is not embroiled in crisis unlike other political parties.

“One year under Abang Johari, PBB is still very strong and united, working very hard for the people.”

Uggah also recalls that barely a few months after taking over as PBB president, Abang Johari hosted an event to unite the party leadership and express his gratitude to past leaders who had contributed so much to the party’s strength and unity.

“He told me to organise a ‘Jasamu Dikenang’ programme to say ‘thank you’ to our past leaders for their contributions to PBB, and it was a huge success as members from all over the state came.

“People come and go in PBB, but the party remains strong and united as the backbone of the Sarawak government.”

“Abang Johari is indeed a visionary and brave leader for all.”

For Deputy Chief Minister II Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing, he describes Abang Johari as a good listener and a people-centric leader who cares for all Sarawakians.

“He listens to suggestions both from the grassroots and party leaders. As such I find it so much easier to assist him in administering Sarawak, as he listens to our suggestions,” said Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation.

Masing points out that these traits mark a good leader who can lead Sarawak to greater heights.

“It’s my hope that all Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) parties would him their undivided support before, during and after the next parliamentary election. What had been decided before GE14 (14th general election) must be kept by all party leaders,” he stresses.

Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, points at the 34km Menjawa-Belaga Road as a good example of Abang Johari’s people-centric focus.

“Upon being told of what’s happening to the road, he flew to Belaga on a short notice to see the situation for himself – he later allocated more than RM50million to make good of that road,” he says, underlining that Abang Johari is ‘ethnically blind’ — a highly-required trait of any leader in a multi-racial society like Sarawak.

Meanwhile Deputy Chief Minister III Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan says with continued political stability coupled with viable policies in place, Sarawak is poised to become an attractive destination for investors.

He views that within one year of leading the state, Abang Johari has introduced many new policies slated for enhancing Sarawak’s economic growth, particularly the digital economy.

“In just within a year, he has done a lot in bringing Sarawak forward — investors are looking for business-friendly policies and also political stability,” says Awang Tengah, who is also Industrial and Entrepreneur Development Minister.

Awang Tengah adds that Abang Johari’s various have been very helpful in his several missions to promote Sarawak to foreign investors.

“Everywhere we go, investors are keen on coming to Sarawak,” he enthused.

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