International Conference on Sarawak & ASEAN
Published on 01 Nov 2018
Growing Together for Common Prosperity & Regional Wellbeing
Key points from discussions on 1st November 2018
at Hilton Hotel Kuching
- There is still much uncertainty in Sarawak’s politics with the relationship between the state government’s Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and the Pakatan Harapan federal government. The Malaysia Agreement 1963 is poised to be a factor in the next state elections. Although Sarawak prides itself for being unaffected by racial and religious issues, there has been divisiveness over politics as rural communities have been caught in between power plays by the state and federal government.
- Sarawak experienced a GDP growth rate of 4.7 percent in 2017, more than double the growth rate from the year before. It is the third biggest economy behind Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, contributing to 9.7 percent of Malaysia’s national GDP. It has a GDP per capita of MYR49,327, the lowest rate of inflation at 3 percent, and an unemployment rate of 3 percent. Sarawak posted a revenue of MYR6.86 billion in 2017. The state’s 2019 budget will be the biggest budget ever for the state, which focuses on improving its infrastructure. These developments will further enhance the level competitiveness of the state.
- Sarawak plans to improve its digital economy, with significant investments to its digital infrastructure. However, there is still more improvements required such as high-speed broadband which is lacking. There also needs to be a digital ecosystem for businesses to take on e-commerce platforms and leverage on the Internet of Things to attain greater efficiency. Big data analytics can also be used by the government to enable better decision making, cost savings, and governance.
- There is potential in energy sector. Sarawak should expand on opportunities to develop sustainable energy, but at the same time must take heed of its consumer needs and take account of the rights of the indigenous community. Microgrid technology and new energy storage technologies can be leverage upon to increase the supply of energy, not only for domestic consumption, but can be exported to neighbouring countries.
- There is need for proactiveness towards educating oneself about sustainability and the preservation of the environment. Some of these matters requires personal will, but others require partnerships between the government, private sector, and civil society to be successful.
(Conference full report available)