Sarawak plans to develop two more hydro electricity dams to ensure between 1,000 to 2,000 extra megawatts of electricity to satisfy some RM20 billion to RM30 billion in new investments.

Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud said the two projects were in Baram in Miri and Balleh in Kapit.

He said this when launching the Sixth Iban Cultural Symposium  organised by the Iban Cultural Foundation under the leadership of Celestine Ujang anak Jilan in Sibu last night.

More than 500 Iban academicians, politicians, senior civil servants, community leaders and members of non-governmental organisations from throughout the state are attending the three-day symposium.

It is part of the events lined-up for Sarawak’s 50th Merdeka anniversary celebration this year.

According to Taib, the state had received about RM34 billion worth of investments to date.

“In fact, I have to slow down on projects as I am waiting for the Baram and  Balleh dams to be built,” he said. 

Sarawak, he added, was now at the gateway of its second wave of development where industrialisation would be its engine of growth through the implementation of Score, its regional development corridor of renewable energy.

“This process of greater industrialisation will bring entirely different changes and challenges from the first wave, which was land development centric.

“It will also spur greater urban migration as this is where the jobs and opportunities are going to be plentiful. People may in turn have problems adjusting to their new environment,” he said.

Thus, Taib said it was crucial that there were people to organise them and  the symposium was timely, as it brings the community together to identify future challenges, problems in preserving the good values of their culture, customs, language, alongside relationship and ties with one

Meanwhile, he reiterated the need for the state’s new generation to be encouraged to take up career courses which would offer them better employment opportunities in the future.

He said the obvious choice was in the technical sector as the state would depart from its traditional agro-based economy by 2030.

Five technical colleges planned

Towards this end, Taib said the government planned to have five technical  colleges in the state under the 10th Malaysia Plan from only one now in Santubong.

On the issue of Native Customary Rights Land, he was glad to note that the native landowners had realised and accepted the government’s initiative to commercially develop it with the participation of the private sector.

He gave an assurance that the government would recognise the rights of the owners over their land in any joint venture (JV).

Taib said they were at liberty to decide what to do with their land after the JV tenure lapsed.