Ting (fifth left) presents a token of appreciation to Abang Johari, with (from left) Dr Annuar, Ling, Alice, Chieng, Dr Sim and his wife Datin Sri Enn Ong, Abdul Karim and his wife Datin Sri Zuraini Abdul Jabbar, and Sharifah Hasidah looking on. — Photo by Betrisianini Bakit
SIBU (Jan 28): The Sibu Renewal Programme has been initiated, set to start from Bukit Assek.
Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, who announced this during the Sibu Municipal Council (SMC)’s Chinese New Year Open House at the civic centre here today, said this programme would turn Sibu into a tourist-friendly destination.
Moreover, he pointed out that there was no reason why Sibu, despite it sitting on peat soil, could not be transformed, adding that Singapore ‘was once a swampy island’.
“In celebrating the Year of Rabbit, let us be like the rabbit – humble, slow but progressive.
“That will happen to Sibu – even if slow, we have a master plan for the development of Sibu.
“We want to have urban renewal for Sibu. As you know, Sibu sits on peat soil, so we must have a modern and highly technological approach in developing it so that it would not be prone to flooding.
“We have to find a solution, although it can be quite expensive. Nevertheless, with the support from the Sibu people, I have initiated the Sibu Renewal Programme, starting from Bukit Assek.
“This renewal programme will turn Sibu into a destination that is tourist-friendly,” he said.
Adding on, Abang Johari said with Sibu having ‘all the products’, the only thing to do would be for the government to ‘plan the development properly’.
However, he acknowledged the need for expertise to help in such undertaking.
“Singapore was originally a swampy island – (former prime minister of the republic) Lee Kuan Yew managed to transform Singapore into what it is today.
“Thus, there is no reason why we cannot turn ‘swampy Sibu’ just like Singapore.”
In this regard, Abang Johari talked about using the technology similar to that in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, adding: “Amsterdam is below sea level, while Sibu is below river level.”
He then returned to his point about engaging the services of international experts to help in Sibu development.
“Ini bukan main-main (this is not for fun). Actually, I have allocated quite a substantial fund to initiate this urban renewal programme. It is very lucky that we got some revenue.
“I cannot tell you the figure, but we are in January (2023) – we had our figures up to December 2022, and our revenue was double of what we got four years ago.
“Meaning, Sarawak’s income has doubled.
“I will announce officially sometime next week – this is beyond our expectations. And because of this, I want to distribute an allocation to Sibu so that we can transform Sibu.”
Meanwhile in his opening remarks, Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) chairman Clarence Ting lauded the leadership of Abang Johari and his team of elected people representatives, who had been working tirelessly during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.
Among those present yesterday were Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian; Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; Deputy Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government II Michael Tiang; Deputy Minister for Education, Innovation and Talent Development I Datuk Dr Annuar Rapaee; Deputy Minister in Premier’s Department (Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, Bukit Assek assemblyman Joseph Chieng, Lanang MP Alice Lau, Sibu MP Oscar Ling, Senator Robert Lau and Temenggong Dato Vincent Lau.