KUCHING – Digital economy will be a strong platform and the catalyst for Sarawak to reach out to the global business community as well as forge international collaboration, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He reiterated that the state government would do everything possible to transform Sarawak into a digital economy powerhouse.
Thus, he hoped the Word Islamic Economy Forum (WIFE) 2017 being held here from Nov 21 till Nov 23 could discuss ways and means, identify opportunities and solutions as well as forge collaborations to benefit all parties.
Abang Johari said he was pleased that WIEF had chosen the theme ‘Disruptive Change: Impact and Challenges’ for this year’s forum in Sarawak.
“The theme is very timely and well aligned to our aspiration to transform our economy capitalising on digital technology,” he said in his special address at the opening of the forum by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.
Abang Johari said as chief minister of Sarawak, he had personally driven the efforts to leapfrog the state’s development through the digital economy.
“I believe the Digital Economy will generate new jobs and opportunities for our entrepreneurs by creating greater efficiency in the way we do business.
“The enhancement in our economy will accelerate growth, increase our wealth and turn Sarawak into a developed and high income State by 2030,” he said.
Abang Johari said disruptive change in the form of technological advancements had transformed human lives, creating new opportunities and altering conventional industries.
He said Sarawak was not spared from the disruptive change and must equip itself with necessary skills and knowledge to face the impacts and challenges.
“On the positive note, the opportunity brought about by this disruptive change has levelled the playing fields in the technology and economic sectors.
“The advent of new disruptive technologies also breaks the dominance of existing products and businesses while providing room for new products to be successful,” he said.
Abang Johari strongly believed that Sarawak’s economy needed to be further diversified as well as transformed to achieve the vision.
He said Sarawak being strategically located between the eastern region and the western region of the world and being an integral part of a fast developing nation, had been able to position itself as one of the most attractive investment destinations in the ASEAN region.
“While other parts of the world are facing geo political tensions and humanitarian crisis, our nation as well as Sarawak has been able to maintain peace and harmony,” he said, adding that stability had been the linchpin over the years in developing the state.
The chief minister also pointed to Sarawak’s attributes -vast natural resources, agricultural land, fisheries and mineral as well as “modern and reliable infrastructure and utilities with efficient and business friendly government”.
“We also have young, productive, diligent and English speaking trainable workforce. Sarawak’s labour force can provide educated, skilled, semi-skilled, and young workers to meet the needs of a high-technology business environment.
“Sarawak has safe, clean and pleasant working and living conditions. Standards of living have improved significantly over the past two decades, and foreign investors and their families can be assured of a high quality life,” he added.
With all modern facilities and amenities, he said visitors from abroad would find it easy to blend in with the local community and adapt to the culture.
He said with the support and cooperation of the State and Federal government, domestic and international corporation sectors, Sarawak not only could realise its full development potential but also play an important role as key hubs for regional cooperation and economic integration in the region.
In order to further accelerate economic growth in Sarawak, Abang Johari said the state government had also set up the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS), established the state’s own petroleum company called Petroleum Sarawak (PETROS) and formed the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA).