Saturday, September 14, 2013

Wishing for better days in Sarawak


Venu Puthankattil
MALAYSIA DAY 1: Come Sept 16, Sarawak will mark the 50th anniversary of its union with the peninsula to form Malaysia. Many changes have taken place since then but there is a lingering sense of unhappiness over the current state of affairs.

The younger generation especially feels Sarawak is lagging behind other states in terms of social and economic development. They want the same quality of life as that enjoyed in the peninsula.

Communications executive Cheryl Melia Martin, for one, thinks that Sarawak should be accorded recognition because it is an “important asset” to the country.

However, there are some things she is quite unhappy about. She cited imported goods, which she said were more expensive in Sarawak than in the peninsula.

She said this was because of logistic expenses incurred to ship the products over here.

She also pointed out that many rural folk are still living without the basic need of electricity and clean water supply.

“Sarawak has the resources to be a top revenue-generating state, but most of our funds go to Peninsular Malaysia…”

Education is very important but she thinks the benefits of education are not reaching out to many Sarawakians.

“There aren’t many schools set up in the deep interior of the state. Those living in the rural areas need help,” Cheryl, 29, told theantdaily.

Business media executive Jonathan Wong, 26, could not quite understand why Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia, is losing out in terms of development.

“Most of the projects in Sarawak are in manufacturing and energy production. Where are the high-value projects?” asked Wong, who holds a bachelor’s degree in international business.
Moreover, he said the state lacks skilled manpower and so has to import workers, citing the 3,000 Japanese workers in Bintulu.

“Does that mean our education system here is not up to par or that some of our youths are not receiving such education?” he asked.

Wong wants the people in Sarawak to stand their ground and demand the things “we know we deserve. We deserve better education, better infrastructure and better living standards”.

Things in Sarawak may look quite gloomy for Cheryl and Wong but the two, however, share a common belief: the state is a land of peace and harmony.

All the races in Sarawak get on along fine even before words like muhibbah and 1Malaysia became the staple of politicians and mainstream media.

“Sarawakians coexist with a multitude of different people such as Chinese, Malays, Indians, Ibans, expatriates and a myriad of different ethnic backgrounds,” said Wong.

For Cheryl, Sarawak’s best attractions are its diverse cultures, racial unity, and tourism potential.

“The state has more than 20 native tribes and races, and everyone gets along very well,” she said.

If there is one wish Cheryl and Wong would like to share, it is to see the state enjoy the benefits of development.

As Wong put: “My hope for Sarawak is that there would be more attention from the federal government and better management from the state.”

~ The Ant Daily

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