KUALA LUMPUR: Former Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri and Chief Minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud had left behind a strong economic legacy, which helped the state to accumulate a reserve fund totalling RM31 billion as of 2018, said Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) women vice-chief Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

She said with such reserves, the Sarawak government did not have to worry when it suddenly became the opposition after Pakatan Harapan took over the federal government following the Barisan Nasional (BN) defeat in the 14th General Election.

“There were many (accusations) made about him (when he was the Chief Minister), but when BN lost in the 2018 general election, and he was no longer the chief minister, the truth about what he had accomplished for Sarawak emerged...as the reserve fund at that time amounted to RM31 billion.

“At that time, Sarawak was the one with the most reserve funds that could be utilised when we were no longer part of the federal government and had become the opposition,“ she said in Bernama TV’s Ruang Bicara programme tonight.

She said the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who took over the leadership, and the current Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, did not use the reserve fund as there were other allocations for Sarawak said the Minister of Women, Family and Community Development.

She said the Sarawak Premier is continuing this legacy by introducing new economies, including hydrogen technology, to boost the state’s income.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) Deputy Dean of Research and Commercialisation at the Faculty of Economics and Business, Dr. Evan Lau Poh Hock, said that the late leader’s budgeting and development strategy led to Sarawak’s economic prosperity and infrastructure growth during his tenure as Chief Minister, earning him the title ‘Architect of Sarawak’s Economy’.

The economic expert noted that Abdul Taib’s forward-thinking approach led to establishing various industrial zones in Sarawak, such as the Sama Jaya High-Tech Park in Kuching and the Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu, aimed at attracting foreign investors.

Lau said Abdul Taib, who served as Sarawak’s Chief Minister for 33 years, took this initiative because he did not want to rely solely on the Federal Government’s support to attract foreign investors, and he believed Sarawak needed its own alternatives.

“The creation of these industrial areas attracted numerous foreign companies, resulting in various job opportunities and facilitating the transfer of new technologies as part of his strategic planning.

“He refused to solely depend on annual development allocations from the Federal Government, insisting that Sarawak should generate its revenue through exports to fund rural development, infrastructure and economic activities,“ he said.

Abdul Taib, aged 87, died at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur at 4.40 am yesterday. He was laid to rest after Zohor prayers today at the family cemetery in Demak Jaya, Kuching, Sarawak.-Bernama

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