KUCHING: The Sarawak government aims to make Kuching the most beautiful city in Malaysia, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Abang Johari said he was motivated to do so following words of encouragement from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the latter’s visit here last month.
He said the Sarawak government does not mind spending money to make Kuching a vibrant, clean and healthy city.
“Our city has caught the attention of the prime minister. The prime minister visited the city during the day time and he said the road from the airport to Kuching is very beautiful with all the flowers.
“He said there is also a lot of development from Kuching city to Santubong. So Kuching has impressed him,” said Abang Johari when officiating at the Kuching City Pearl Jubilee Celebration here last night.
According to him, the fact that the leader of the Pakatan Harapan-led federal government was impressed by the city is testament to the accomplishments of both Kuching South City Council (MBKS) and Kuching North City Commission (DBKU).
Abang Johari said for Kuching to become a beautiful city, an urban renewal plan needs to be initiated to improve areas “that do not look so healthy”, adding the Sarawak government will not only spend money but also work closely with the private sector to transform these places.
The Sarawak government, he disclosed, has also sent representatives overseas to learn how to develop and transform a city so that it can be “more healthy, green and vibrant”.
He also said he would like the Heritage Trail – from Kuching Waterfront to Brooke Dockyard and Padungan – to be developed further as a tourist attraction.
“Even the Malay villages and area where Fort Margherita is located should also be developed further into a modern urban tourist attraction,” he said, adding that the completion of the Darul Hana Bridge has contributed to the increased number of visitors at Kuching Waterfront and areas across the Sarawak River.
According to the chief minister, the Kuching Waterfront area will be boosted as a tourism spot once the musical fountain – similar to the ones at Marina Bay in Singapore and in Dubai – is put in place.
He said when he was the state’s Tourism Minister, he would get feedback from tourists that Kuching was well-planned and clean.
“What is important now is that city folk and the local authorities must interact more towards making Kuching the most beautiful city in the nation.
“There is now more reason to transform the city because of the rapid pace of rural-to-urban migration. The urban-rural ratio used to be 30:70 but now it is at 60:40,” he pointed out.
Abang Johari also commended MBKS for coming up with an application that provides real-time communication between city folk and the council on matters concerning the city.
“Kuching has been recognised as a ‘City of Unity’ and ‘Clean City’ due to the people’s dedication and hard work in transforming it. This reflects the culture of our people.”
Among those present at the celebration to commemorate City Day as well as the opening of the annual Kuching Festival were Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, Local Government Assistant Minister Datu Dr Penguang Manggil, Kuching South Mayor Dato James Chan and Datuk Bandar of Kuching North Datuk Abang Abdul Wahap Abang Julai.