Don’t take digital economy vision lightly, Sarawak CM tells critics

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg today urged critics not to take lightly of his vision to bring Sarawak towards digital .

Abang Johari said with the right strategies and support from the whole communities, Sarawak can be on the same par with developed countries in its digital journey.

“With all the technologies in mind, my vision is that they are going to shape the ways the industrial sectors will design their services, products and processes and also the evolution of the global economic ecosystems,” he said.

“We can no longer be left behind in terms of digital technology adoption and digital economic growth that can very well benefit for our people.

“Either we push ahead in new research areas or we will be always a follower without being able to bring much progress to our people and country,” he said at the opening of an International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak 2019 at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching here.

Citing a simple example of the benefits of transforming into digital economy, the chief minister said by restructuring cash-based transaction and using digital payments in the very near future, the government can efficiently cut the “black economy” and increase revenue through sales tax.

“This is one of the most obvious and common benefits of digital economy, when transaction is digitised, monitoring sales and taxes becomes more convenient,” he said.

Abang Johari said since becoming chief minister in 2014, a number of early initiatives have been carried out to implement the digital economy strategies.

He said the state government has implemented an online identification and authentication system known as “Sarawak ID” for enabling the public to access and use the various online services or application systems of the Sarawak government.

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He said the Sarawak ID is the first step towards service-based, people-centric government, where people will know the government by the services provided and not functions of departments.

He added as at July 1, 2019, the number of Sarawak ID registered users is 208,644 and that 20 government services are also now online.

“In the near future, a series of more innovative, engaging, more personalised and seamless services will also be introduced,” he said.

He said the state government has also implemented the e-wallet apps known as Sarawak Pay for e-commerce.

“As at June 30 this year, the number of user sign-up was 91,640; with a total of transactions and top up amounting to RM35 million. The target is to reach 150,000 users by year end,” he added.

The chief minister also said that the state government is setting up 300 telecommunication structures, which are expected to be completed by 2019.

“These towers cover areas not served by commercial service providers due to the lack of potential for financial return of investment,” he added.

Apart from cloud technology, he said the state is also in the midst of laying fibre optics cable on land across the breadth of Sarawak while working together with international companies to provide gateway linkage to the global network.

The chief minister said in areas of higher education and research, the state government has provided scholarships to students and grants to universities to conduct research.

“The state will also partner top-notch international technology companies and universities to transfer knowledge and technology as well as to commercialise research outcomes,” he added.

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