Home Web Specials 2011 Web Specials Sarawak is already the richest state, but…

Sarawak is already the richest state, but…

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Believe it or or not, Sarawak is already the richest state in the country. But much of its wealth is fast disappearing, warns our correspondent.

Long Singu, Sarawak © Lizzie Bardwell courtesy of Molong Post

The BN pledges to make Sarawak the richest state in Malaysia.

But, according to the Department of Statistics, Sarawak is already the richest state in Malaysia, outside of WP Kuala Lumpur.

Yes, you read that correctly: The Department of Statistics reports that Sarawak is already the richest state in Malaysia.

According to the department, Sarawak’s GDP per person, a common measure of wealth, amounted to RM30,318 in 2009, higher than Penang’s RM29,569 and Selangor’s RM27,609, and much higher than Johor’s RM18,458.

Why then is Sarawak a net exporter of people — despite the large inflow of foreign labour into Sarawak? Why are tens of thousands of Sarawakians leaving and going to places like Johor and Selangor to look for work? Why does Sarawak have higher unemployment?

In other words, it appears that Sarawak’s problem is the distribution of that wealth. Selangor and Penang may not have as high a per capita GDP, but it is better distributed, meaning households and individuals have better incomes

Sarawak’s GDP/person may be higher, but as Sarawakians well know, Sarawak’s wealth is increasingly concentrated into the hands of a few, including the “first” family.

Take oil palm development: yes, that is generating large amounts of wealth, but does it go to the people? Or, instead, to a handful of companies? What about the timber wealth? Where has that gone? Into real property and buildings in Canada, Australia, the United States and England, belonging to the “first” family, to the big six timber companies, or into the pockets of the ordinary people of Sarawak?

READ MORE:  Timber company CEO lodged police report against NGO Save Rivers

What about business opportunities? Who gets the contracts, leaving the people to scramble for sub- and sub-sub contracts?

And land? Once upon a time, the natives of Sarawak were the richest in the country. Today, they find themselves losing more and more of that land. The people of Asap Resettlement know that best of all. Before, they owned and had access to hundreds of thousands of hectares of the Balui valley. Today, they are forced to live on little more than 1 hectare a family.

Meanwhile, Sarawak has the lowest – lower even than Sabah – road development index in the country. Low income Sarawakians “enjoy” less of the electricity rebate than elsewhere in the country — they get the same allowance of up to RM20 a month, but the per unit charge in Sarawak is 50 per cent higher than in Malaya or Sabah. Worse, more Sarawakians are without 24/7 electricity than even in Sabah, and what clean water they used to get is increasingly polluted by loggers and land/plantation developers. Even phone coverage in Sarawak is worse than in Sabah.

What Sarawak needs is a voice for the people; recognition of their human, social economic and cultural rights; and accountability and transparency in governance — at all times, not just when there is a challenge at elections.

What Sarawak does not need are fine pledges over which they have no right to call the government to account while they see their so-called leaders get richer by the day! What they don’t need are leaders who tell them to be grateful for the little goodies tossed their way come election time, road construction vehicles which appear at election time and disappear even before the results are announced, and promises laced with threats. What they want is government for and by the people, a true 1Sarawak, not a 1Sarawak for 1family & friends.

READ MORE:  People in Malaysia send firm reminder to politicians

To the people of Sarawak: what you see today is the result of the presence of a strong opposition. Without that, there would not have been all this promised expenditure and promises.

Remember: a vote for the BN is a vote for business as it has been these past thirty years; a vote for BN is a vote for Taib; a vote for the BN is to vote away our future.

Today, Sarawak may have the highest GDP/person in the country, outside of Wilayah Perseketuan KL. But much of that wealth is disappearing. The next five years are critical.


The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
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1 May 2011 1.16am

The absense of a constructive and strong opposition coliation party is the root cause of unequal distribution of wealth in Sarawak state. Without transparency and accoutability in governance, the wealth is plundered slowly without drawing much attention to the residents and getting much publicity from media networks.

Watch Dog says...
20 Apr 2011 4.21pm

Why are you people so concerned about Sarawak?? Yes Sarawak is the richest state with the followings:
1. Corrupted Leaders.
2. Dayaks have all agreed to TAIB to take more.
3. Oil and Gas productions & Reserves
4. the most number of poverty
5. a lot of illegal workers due to huge
6.Slavery pay at RM12.00 per day…
7. China girls in Reflexology centres.
8.Gangsters controlling Forest Dept,Illegal
logging..right now in Kpg Tringus using xx licence
9.many many more

18 Apr 2011 10.06pm

I am in total disgust. Really.
When will you people stop squabbling and nit picking amongst yourself. White hair is laughing. Do not blame the gerry mandering. Do not blame the divide & rule method being used against you. go out there and seriously get people to be registered as voters. yes voters that will change Sarawak. As you can see , the turnout of voters is small. where are all the people?And SNAP, plsclose shop and let the younger generation start a new party. Look at DAP, they have the young ones ready to take over. Now where are you as Dayaks or Ibans for that matter? White hair is happy because nothing is done while he … grabs land from you..

18 Apr 2011 9.58pm

Eg: Japan is a rich country. But its people are poor.
Get my meaning.

16 Apr 2011 11.41am

i don’t understand what no party said, what do you mean by controlling our drinking first before we change the leaders? does it mean that no party import his own food? grow his own vege, mine his own oil. do you think by drinking less your leader will change? may be you dont drink ya?

no party
no party
15 Apr 2011 9.37pm

You want change? Probably better change the bad attitude of too many drinking first then we can talk of changing the leaders. Of course those who cannot perform need to change. Sometimes we drink too much and bcome too emotional… we change first, b4 we help others.

13 Apr 2011 1.33pm

This is a time for Sarawakian wake up and change the government. we have to topple Taib and BN and Umno

Watch Dog says...
11 Apr 2011 9.49pm

Sarawak is already a country,joining Malaya to form Malaysia..in the end become…Malay..SIAL..plus iron fist ruler.Sarawak … NOW… becomes poor..(most) of the oil money are used to develop Malaya.

There are NO more forests meaning NO more timber..no sands,mountains… all are taken …

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