Sarawak hopes to develop own vaccine one day, says Abg Jo


Abang Johari (third right) presents a certificate of appreciation to Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) director Datu Khirudin Drahman (third left) while (from left) Dr Rundi, Uggah, Dr Sim and Abu Bakar look on. – Photo by Roystein Emmor

KUCHING (Sept 26): Sarawak hopes to one day develop its own vaccine to prevent and contain any new infectious diseases, says Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He envisioned that this would be made possible with the state’s upcoming research centre for infectious diseases.

“We are going to set up our own research centre for tropical infectious diseases, which is now under construction under a budget of RM200 million.

“I’m sure that with the cooperation of other research centres throughout the world, we hope that one day, maybe we can produce our own vaccine to face new pandemic diseases in the tropics,” he said at the state-level Covid-19 Frontliners Appreciation Night at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here last night.

Having just returned from a trip to Korea recently, Abang Johari relayed that the state had a discussion with Samsung Biologics, the biotech arm of South Korea’s Samsung Group.

“They are working with the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) where they manufacture drugs for whatever diseases humankind is facing.

“With this, I’m sure we can play our part to make sure that the health of Sarawak will be protected,” he said.

Earlier, Abang Johari said the state government had allocated RM300 million for the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) operation which included the building of labs and equipment for Covid-19; setting up of quarantine centres; vaccine purchases; medical equipment; few hospitals; medical labs and so on for the smooth implementation of policy on the ground.

“We also spent RM260 million on hotels for quarantine while also implemented the Sarawakku Sayang Special Aid (BKSS) 1.0 to 9.0, which has to date, allocated RM6.7 billion in assisting various income groups, individuals and businesses,” he said.

The Premier pointed out that following the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic which had impacted the growth of the state, he would continue exploring various avenues to increase Sarawak’s revenue.

He said these included exploring on carbon economy, renewable energy such as hydrogen, frequency spectrum and other new economical frontier, in addition to the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030, an initiative that will create a sustainable economy, social inclusion and a conducive environment.

“From an economic development point of view, the Sarawak government aims to double the economic capacity from RM136 billion to RM282 billion by 2030 with an increase of 8 per cent per year,” he said, adding that the state will use creative financial modeling through revenue engineering to increase revenue to ensure a fiscal financial position.

Abang Johari in his speech expressed his utmost appreciation to the dedicated frontliners who had worked very hard and tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

He also conveyed his deepest gratitude to SDMC led by its chairman, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas whose “excellent leadership and outstanding human handling skills” was able to pull the state through the pandemic.

At the event, Abang Johari presented certificates of appreciation to frontliners where recipients included the State Health Department, enforcement agencies, resident offices, councils and more.

Among those present were Uggah, Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, and State Secretary Dato Sri Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki.