KUCHING: Malaysia’s leaders must come up with a strategic solution to tackle current issues and find ways to spur the country’s economic growth rather than focus too much on fighting against their political opponents, says Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian.
He pointed out that 2020 will be a year full of variables and tough challenges ahead with Malaysians facing a hard time to make ends meet in view of the country’s economic downturn, depreciation of currency and high inflation.
In Sarawak, he said the state government, under the ruling of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), places strong emphasis on looking after the welfare of all Sarawakians through various channels despite facing unfair treatment from the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government in terms of economic and development support.
“Among the people-centric policies and initiatives implemented by the Sarawak government include the RM300 flight subsidy for Sarawakian students studying in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah; Endowment Fund Sarawak (EFS) of RM1,000 for Sarawakian newborns; free water for the first RM5 of the monthly domestic water bill for all households; free electricity connection charges of up to RM5,000 or subsidies of up to 70 per cent for connection charges between RM5,000 and RM10,000 for low-income households and more,” he said in his Chinese New Year message today.
Dr Sim, who is also SUPP president, said starting this year, Sarawak needs to start working towards becoming a wealthy state and to do so, it needs economic development and talent.
“Sarawak’s current economic development is in good and healthy condition and it has been estimated that the state can achieve 5.5 to 6 per cent growth this year,” he said, adding that the state government will continue to seek various ways to increase the state’s revenue.
As for talent, he said the state needs more talents to serve in various fields.
“Only when Sarawak is not short of talents then we will be able to seek for better development achievement for the state because only Sarawakians know what Sarawak wants.”
He noted that while some countries are rich in resources, they are short of talents and therefore could only rely on foreign talents.
“Sarawak can’t follow their path. We believe that only when Sarawak becomes wealthy, then only Sarawak can become stronger.
“Therefore, Sarawak’s vision is to become financially independent first.”
Meanwhile, Dr Sim said racism is rearing its ugly head in Malaysia of late.
“For example, the recent banning of Chinese New Year decoration at SMK Bandar Puchong 1 in Selangor and the attempt to challenge Chinese and Tamil schools’ legal status in the Constitution.
“All these will jeopardise the racial harmony in our country and if our leaders do not start taking stern action against the extremists, Malaysia might soon descend into chaos,” he stressed.
He said Sarawakians are proud of the racial harmony and mutual respect the multi-racial and multi-religious communities have for one another.
“Race, religion and education differences have never been an issue for Sarawakians.”
He added that Sarawakians ought to show their strong support to the state government in banning the entry of religious extremist to Sarawak so as to safeguard the values of racial harmony, unity and inclusivity which Sarawak is renowned for.
Dr Sim said Sarawak’s unique multi-racial relationship is also evident where Sarawakians of different races come together to celebrate major festivals such as Chinese New Year.
“This is the race harmony asset that all Sarawakians should treasure.”
He said the Lunar New Year is an important festive season for the Chinese as it symbolises reunion and is celebrated by visiting each other.
“This tradition promotes a close and harmonious relationship between each other,” he said and wished the Chinese communities in Sarawak a prosperous Chinese New Year.