Sarawak cannot afford to be left behind in terms of digital technology adoption and digital economic growth, which can very well benefit the people, the state’s Chief Minister noted recently.
In fact, he said Sarawak could also be on the same par with developed countries in this digital journey which saw the world experiencing more intricate and complex technological terms, including 5G telecommunications, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Voice Recognition, Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR).
He noted that the choice is between pushing ahead in new research areas or always being a follower without being able to bring much progress to Malaysia and its citizens.
The Chief Minister made these statements during an opening address at the official launch of International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak 2019 (IDECS) here.
Elaborating further, it was noted that there were so many other benefits of this digital economy, which almost every country in this world is forgoing into, and Sarawak had even charted its strategies and action plans which were currently in the early stage of implementation.
Some of the Sarawak’s early initiatives to implement its digital economy strategies are the state’s digital government, manufacturing, smart city, tourism, agriculture and e-commerce.
As for the digital government initiative, an online identification and authentication system known as ‘Sarawak ID’ has been implemented to enable the public to access and use the various online services or application systems of the Sarawak government.
The chief minister noted that 1 July 2019, the number of Sarawak ID registered users stood at 208,644 with 20 government services had been made accessible online.
With regards to IDECS, this was the third edition of the conference and involved 2,300 delegates from all around the world.
To accelerate further the state’s journey, it was noted that the Government will be partnering with top international digital technology players.
Soon, there will be 10 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) exchanges between Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) and various international partners relating to Sarawak Digital Economy.
Moreover, there will also be one joint venture agreement (JVA) exchange between SACOFA and Datastream Technology Sdn Bhd (DST) of Brunei Darussalam, relating to providing high-speed retail internet services in Sarawak, and one MOU exchange between SACOFA and XPERANTI on partnership for the provision of IoT Solutions in Sarawak.
Steady sources of income for Sarawak
According to an earlier report, Sarawak, which has recorded budget surpluses for several years, has steady sources of revenue, especially the imposition of the sales tax on petroleum products for exports.
Sarawak is politically stable, financially well-managed and continues to attract both domestic and foreign investors. This has been attributed to its business-friendly policies and ability to provide modern infrastructure, as well as competitive power and water tariffs.
He said there were numerous indications that domestic and foreign investors were looking at Sarawak, especially in the manufacturing sector, based on the many memorandums of agreement (MoAs) and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) already signed with the interested parties.
International rating agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have also reaffirmed the state’s investment credit ratings at A3 and A- respectively.
As a result of development initiatives such as the Sarawak Industrial Plan, the state was able to attract huge investments into various industrial sectors such as the oil and gas industries in Bintulu, high tech industries in Kuching, shipbuilding industries in Sibu and Miri, as well the energy-based industries.
In an effort to embrace the digital economy, the Sarawak government has set aside RM1 billion to upgrade the telecommunications infrastructure and other infrastructure to establish good connectivity, as well as stimulate economic growth in the rural regions.
The variety of projects being developed and implemented in Sarawak have created over 104,000 employment opportunities in the state, mainly in the natural gas, chemical and chemical products, basic metal products, electronics and electrical products, wood and wood products sectors.