Friday, February 1, 2008

Sarawak Corridor launch on Feb 11

KUCHING: After the launch of the Iskandar Development Region, Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) and the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), all eyes are now set on Sarawak.

The Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score), an ambitious long-term development master plan encompassing a whole range of high-tech and energy intensive projects, is expected to be launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Feb 11 in Bintulu.

Score is located within the central region of Sarawak and stretches 320km along the state's coast from Tanjung Manis to Similajau, extending into the hinterland, covering remote, semi-urban and urban centres of growth.

Its main engine of growth is hydroelectric power, which is expected to be the catalyst and springboard for economic growth through various large-scale industries and their respective spin-offs.

Beyond the aim of eradicating poverty and uplifting the people's standard of living, it is earmarked to propel Sarawak's leap into a truly industrialised state by the year 2020.
Unlike the other development corridors, Score would be totally managed by the state's Regional Corridor Development Authority (Recoda).

The Regional Corridor Development Authority Ordinance, passed by the Sarawak legislative assembly, spells out Recoda's role and responsibility in ensuring the smooth implementation of Score.

Among others, it is duty-bound to manage and promote the holistic development of Score and achieve the intended targets, which include investments, physical development and most importantly, the human capital development.

Recoda's greater target by the year 2030 is to ensure the creation of 1.5 million new job opportunities and achieve a gross domestic product per capita growth of 5.5 per cent per annum.

The greatest challenge for the development authority is to attract a total of RM305 billion in investments over the next 20 years.

Huge hydroelectric generation prospects and the vast natural stock of coal (estimated at 1.5 billion tones) and natural gas (2007 estimation of 40.9 trillion cubic ft) in the central region of Sarawak form an unavoidable magnetic pull to global investors who are hunting for renewable and cheap source of energy.

"It must be made very clear that the Sarawak corridor of renewable energy is not all about the big players who invest billions of ringgit. It must not be misconstrued as the 'playground' for only the big players and international companies.

"Every Sarawakian has a role to play in the regional development concept. Human capital development is one of the main emphasis and it is up to us how we want to make ourselves useful," Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said.

Chan, who is also state Minister of Industrial Development and Agriculture, is excited that Score would finally be launched after a lengthy preparation.

He thinks that holistic development plans like Score provides a clear target for the people to work on.

"This is not about building castles in the air.

"The government is now creating and providing the necessary infrastructure towards achieving a developed nation status by 2020.

"It is now the responsibility of the younger generation to chart their path in tandem with the physical and intellectual development around them.

"When projects and development programmes under Score take off, it is not about the availability of opportunities but how we are going to be part and parcel of the development," Chan said..

The Sarawak Aluminium Company (Salco) in Similajau, one of the early birds in Score, is by itself expected to provide about 5,000 jobs by the end of 2010.

Salco is a smart-partnership between Cahaya Mata Sarawak Bhd and renowned Australian aluminium industry pioneer Rio Tinto Alcan.-NST Online-2008/01/31