Sarawak aims to finalise three strategic goals this year – Abang Johari

KUCHING, Feb 9: Sarawak aims to finalise three strategic goals this year in its aspiration to create a wholesome environment for progress and advancement in the state.

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state wants to take over Bintulu Port from the federal government, establish its own airline and have a major stake in a commercial bank.

“After 43 years of its establishment, we want to take back Bintulu Port. This is not only because it should be under Sarawak’s authority according to the Constitution, but also because Sarawak needs to comprehensively plan its port development, which encompasses the whole of Sarawak, including its resource-rich hinterland.

“This is much like taking back Bakun Hydro from the federal authority, to enable us to be in control, to determine our power tariff, to attract investment in energy-intensive industries in Sarawak,” he said in his Chinese New Year message here, today.

Abang Johari said that Sarawak aspires to have an airline, not only to serve its rural areas, but also to provide connectivity to selected destinations in the Asian region.

He said that the state needs to invest in creating air linkages between Sarawak and the rest of the region, not only to bring in tourists, but also to facilitate air travel to boost business and investment in Sarawak.

“Sarawak is situated on an island and the only way to bring people in is to fly them in. I hope we can finalise the negotiation with the federal authorities soon, and gain control of the airline this year,” he said.

He added that Sarawak also aspires to have a major stake in a commercial bank, to provide Sarawak with a financial platform to boost the economy further, through the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurship.

“Sarawak already has some stakes in this particular bank, and we want to increase our stake. I am confident that we can conclude the negotiations soon, so that we can participate actively in the running of the bank and be able to serve Sarawak’s interest well,” he added.