By SHARON LING
KUCHING: The state Barisan Nasional has launched its manifesto which focuses on areas relevant to Sarawak, such as economic and rural transformation, technical education and bridging the digital divide.
State Barisan chairman Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said the supplementary manifesto would help keep Sarawak abreast with the rest of the nation in the implementation of national policies.
"This is our way of interpreting the national manifesto into a Sarawak manifesto which is more pointedly relevant to our ambitions," he said when unveiling it at PBB headquarters here Wednesday afternoon.
On the economy, he said Sarawak was moving more into the industrial sector with the development of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), which would turn the state into an important manufacturing network for heavy industries which require cheap energy.
"We're also planning to upgrade our food processing and eventually pharmaceuticals from the yield of our vast palm oil industry which is now about one billion hectares," he said.
Side by side with the physical development, the state is planning to have better educational and technical skills development centres as part of its migration towards a high-income economy.
Taib said Sarawak was expected to achieve developed-nation status in terms of per capita income earlier than 2020.
"By 2030, we expect our per capita income to be nearly RM100,000. So the planning for Sarawak seems to be quite all right and this is how we implement the national manifesto and economic policy," he said.
He also said rural transformation was going well in the state, with the help of Federal grants totalling nearly RM3bil for rural electrification, water supply and roads.
He said the state government would continue this effort, particularly as the national manifesto implied that more money would be given to the state to increase rural roads, electrification and water supply until nearly 100%.
In addition, Taib said more efforts would be made to bridge the digital divde between rural and urban areas, including providing Internet connection to all schools.
"We spent more than RM200mil a few years back in order to start a rural IT network. Now this is being taken over by the Federal Government to improve the network to all schools in rural areas and smaller town.
"We have done most of this through a Wi-Fi arrangement in coastal and flat areas, but the Federal Government will complete it by having satellite links in places like Kapit where there are mountains," he said.
He said the manifesto also focused on preserving the state's culture, heritage and harmony among all the races, keeping the prices of goods and services under control and maintaining a sustainable environment.
"We are proud that we have an abundance of greenery in our state. Our forestry and agriculture are well controlled to meet certain environmental standards.
"We are now developing a better understanding of our heritage in terms of biodiversity and we want to develop it gradually for the pharmaceutical industry," he said.
After launching the manifesto, Taib handed over letters of authority to the state's 31 Barisan candidates.
"I'm very satisfied with the selection of candidates from all the parties. We are hoping for a good victory and to contribute towards the desire of the Prime Minister for a two-thirds majority in Parliament by having more than two-thirds victory in Sarawak," he said.
Also present were state Barisan component party leaders and assemblymen.
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