By Samuel Bay (UKAS)
KUCHING, 15 Dec: If one travels from Kuching International Airport down to Kuching City, a giant statue of a hornbill can be seen at the BDC/Hui Sing flyover to welcome any visitor to the city.
In Sarawak, the hornbill (burung kenyalang) is a specially revered bird among the locals. It is also a highly protected species under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance since 1998 with a heavy punishment against those who hunt or keep the birds as pets.
Interestingly, Sarawak is also known as the Land of the Hornbills, hence making the special bird a pride and a state symbol.
Hornbills are also known to be a sharing species, and it is common to see them passing food amongst each other.
Kudos to our past and present leaders who wisely accorded the respect to the hornbill by choosing the bird as the State’s symbol.
The hornbill is a majestic bird and a symbol of strength for Sarawakians.
Formation of GPS for a better Sarawak
On 9 January 2019, a new dawn of Sarawak’s politics began when Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) was officially formed, and the logo, depicting the ‘kenyalang’, was unveiled by the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg at the PBB Headquarters, in Kuching.
In the shape of the letter ‘S’, Abang Johari said the main concept of the GPS logo depicting the ‘kenyalang’ reflects the vision and slogan of the coalition that put ‘Sarawak First’.
He explained that the unveiling ceremony was a historic day for Sarawak politics because a coalition of parties had been formed to enable ‘anak-anak’ Sarawak to lead and decide on the direction of the State and protect the interests of Sarawakians in Malaysia.
As the ‘kenyalang’ is a highly protected species, it is therefore literally incumbent that all GPS members should continuously protect the people of Sarawak.
Abang Johari said the red colour on the logo signifies the supremacy of both the Federal and State Constitutions while the white colour represents the fairness of the Rule of Law, and the black colour symbolises the pillar of the coalition to uphold its objectives.
The three colours signify GPS as a coalition that will defend Sarawak’s rights in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and the Malaysia and Sarawak Constitutions, he further said.
In line with the spirit of democracy, he said GPS will continue to bring fairness and justice to all races and religions in Sarawak and ensure that Sarawak will be able to develop and add value to the lives of the people and economy of the State.
“Your religion is your religion, my religion is my religion,” he always stressed in echoing his predecessor, the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem or Tok Nan, and emphasising on the freedom of religions in Sarawak.
“For GPS members, let us all walk together to defend Sarawak,” said Abang Johari to the four founding parties of GPS, namely Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).
This year marks the fifth year that Abang Johari is helming the State Government after taking over from his predecessor, the late Tok Nan, on 13 January 2017.
Since then, Abang Johari has been relentlessly moving on the ground to continue the legacy of Tok Nan to make sure that Sarawak continues to move towards the right direction and achieve development and progress.
More than 100 Initiatives
To date, Abang Johari has implemented more than 100 initiatives which are actually a record of some sort, bearing in mind the short number of years that he has been the Chief Minister.
This clearly reflects his seriousness and concern in solving the rakyat’s problems and in line with the slogan ‘Sarawak First’.
Of course, some of the initiatives are in the planning stages, while some are already implemented, and some are just starting.
After all, as the adage says, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’, meaning that it takes some time to do a job properly so that it gives a significant impact to the rakyat.
Development works take time to be implemented as they need careful planning and execution.
Putting ‘Sarawak First’ is Abang Johari’s central priority and the man himself can be considered a game changer in the State in view of his deep passion to uplift Sarawak until it becomes a developed State by the year 2030.
He is especially very keen to see Sarawakians embrace the digital economy, and enthusiastically works to see that the rural areas are developed even further, although it is an uphill task as there are no less than 5,000 longhouses and villages scattered all around Sarawak.
When the Pakatan Harapan government ruled Malaysia from May 2018 to February 2020, it cancelled funds for some high-impact infrastructural projects such as the bridges at Rambungan in Igan and Batang Lupar in Sri Aman, but Abang Johari is not a man to easily concede defeat.
He quickly sourced the state budget to finance the three projects and ensure their completion for the sake of the rakyat.
For the record, Sarawak is the only State in Malaysia which has an agency known as Unit for Other Religions (UNIFOR) to look after the needs and welfare of other religions and had been given more than RM50 million a year.
Five Percent Sales Tax on Petroleum Products
Abang Johari’s vast experience as a leader, coupled with capable officers around him, positions him to strategically introduced the five percent sales tax on petroleum products, which is a smart move to source for more income from Sarawak’s natural resources.
“This is one way that the Sarawak Government can give back to the people by implementing more development projects with the money derived from the tax,” he had always said in his many official functions.
One day after the Malaysia Day celebration on 17 September 2020, as expected, PETRONAS finally made the first payment from the sales tax amounting to RM2.95 billion which was certainly a boost for Sarawak’s development.
This fund was fully utilised to finance several bridges in the coastal areas as well as other infrastructure projects.
A man of many firsts
Abang Jo is also the main person responsible for creating many firsts for Sarawakians.
To name a few, he introduced the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS), Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (PETROS) and the hydrogen bus, enhanced the Digital Economy, as well as created the Upper Rajang Development Agency (URDA), Sri Aman Development Agency (SADA), Highland Development Agency (HDA), Northern Region Development Agency (NRDA) and Integrated Regional Samarahan Development Agency (IRSDA), and many others for a holistic development of Sarawak.
Under his tenure, another history was made when Kapit Town finally got connected to the rest of Sarawak with the completion of the trunk road project in 2020. A big present for the people in Kapit Division.
It was a dream come true for the more than 90,000 people in Kapit and Song who had been waiting for the important connection for many years.
Post COVID-19 Development Strategy 2030 (PCDS).
In May 2020, amidst the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chief Minister still managed to form the Sarawak Economic Action Council (SEAC) to formulate the PCDS.
“I am confident that we can realise Sarawak’s 2030 aspirations as we have an efficient Civil Service and a proactive private sector that are working very hard to develop Sarawak,” he has said.
The Chief Minister’s great concern and care for Sarawakians was again proven in the 2022 State Budget which he described as an expansionary budget that will focus on the State’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This budget will focus primarily on protecting and restoring the livelihood of the people and small businesses. It is a people-centric budget,” he added.
As a testimony to his concern for the rakyat affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Abang Johari rolled out seven series of monetary aid known as Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) amounting to RM5.3 billion.
Abang Johari is envisioning that by 2030, “Sarawak will be a thriving society driven by data and innovation where everyone enjoys economic prosperity, social inclusivity and sustainable environment”.
It is the Chief Minister’s hope that all Sarawakians will resonate with his slogan of ‘Sarawak First’ to make sure that the hornbill in GPS can successfully fly high, bringing with it the vision, hope, aspiration and future that Sarawakians have always aspired for.
What is important now is for all Sarawakians, who love peace, stability, a continuous economic growth, and progress to continue to give Abang Johari and his GPS team their solid support and trust so that they can continue to deliver their best for Sarawak.
Join our social media channel to get our news Alerts and highlights.