Abang Johari (fifth right), Salleh on his right and Dr Sim on his left, strike the drums to mark the launch of ‘Harmony Nite’ at Kota Sentosa Square. Also seen are Juma’ani (seventh right) and Morshidi (third right). — Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi
KUCHING: The highly-anticipated Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in the state will enter a new phase with the announcement of its major routes by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg this March 29.
When officiating at the ‘Harmony Nite’ themed ‘United We Stand’ at Kota Sentosa Square on Saturday night, the chief minister said the aim of the project, slated for works from early next year to 2029, is to ease traffic congestion in areas that are currently or expected to be experiencing extensive development growth.
He, however, hinted that one of the routes of the LRT would be to Mile 7 Bazaar, which has been experiencing rapid growth in terms of economic, residential and social infrastructures.
“Last time, there was no (traffic) jam in the bazaar as compared to now. This is one of the reasons why we have proposed for the LRT project to be built,” said Abang Johari.
He added that despite its positive impact, the LRT project still receives numerous criticisms from a certain opposition party member.
“His criticisms are ‘boleh tahan’ (quite severe) but when the project is completed, he himself will ride in the LRT,” he quipped.
He pointed out that the trains for the LRT would use hydrogen technology, which is currently used and being developed in China.
On another note, Abang Johari said the state government has fulfilled its promise to develop and improve infrastructure and bring in development projects, which have benefitted the people by providing various economic opportunities.
He pointed Kuching Sentral and the proposed low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT) airport – a collaboration between the state government and AirAsia – as among the development projects that could bring rippling effects to the people in Kota Sentosa, especially those in Mile 7 Bazaar.
“The airport will bring in more tourists to the state and who will benefit from such infrastructure? Of course, it will be the people in Kota Sentosa.”
Abang Johari emphasised that all the various development projects proposed and carried out by the state government would not be able to be realised without stability.
As such, there must unity and harmony among the people of various races and religions in the state, he stressed.
“We all live like one big family – we can eat and sit together at ‘kopitiams’ (coffe shops). Let it be this way,” he reminded.
Abang Johari also promised to continue the policies of the late chief minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, who had emphasised on numerous times never to label the Chinese as the ‘pendatang’ (immigrants).
“The Chinese are born and raised here (Sarawak) – they are Sarawakians. This is our policy and will continue to be our policy,” Abang Johari pointed out.
He also said the state government had increased its assistance to Chinese medium schools to RM7 million, recognised the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) and announced the assistance of RM500,000 to SJK Sam Hap Hin, Kota Sentosa.
He praised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for the mega projects in the state such as the Pan Borneo Highway development and at the same, he expressed confidence in Sarawak leaders to manage the state’s Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS) and Petroleum Sarawak Bhd (Petros).
“The prime minister has also listened to us in our negotiations under the MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963). We (Sarawak) just want to take back our eroded rights – no more, no less. That is how we negotiate,” said Abang Johari.
He also said the federal government had allocated RM500 million to add to the state’s RM1 billion to upgrade and build Internet infrastructures as the backbone of Sarawak’s digital economy.
Also present were Abang Johari’s wife Datin Patinggi Dato Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Sim Kui Hian, and State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani.