Salam sejahtera and Salam Sarawakku Sayang
First let me extend a very warm Christmas greetings to all our Christian friends. On behalf of my family I would like to wish all our Christians friends, a happy and merry Christmas, and a happy new year 2021 to all Sarawakians.
It is the time of the year again that Christians look forward to with full of hope. But as with other celebrations before this, it is a bit sad that our Christian friends would not be able to celebrate Christmas as they used to due to restrictions during this time of COVID-19.
This time around you may not be able to have full services in churches, organise Christmas parade, or visit friends and relatives on Christmas day all because of the need to restrict our movement to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection.
So far with the hard work of the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), the dedication of our frontline personnel and the co-operation of our people, our State has been able to control the infection to single digit. Our social and religious institutions, particularly churches, have been very co-operative by observing the SOPs and I sincerely hope that we will continue to abide by the SOPs so that we stop the chain of infection.
With travel restrictions imposed, I am aware that some who are staying outside Sarawak now, may not be able to return to their hometowns, kampongs, longhouses or villages for fear this will cause another spike in infections. On behalf of the State Government, I sincerely hope that all who are affected understand the need for us to be strict with the SOPs.
Covid-19 has caused extensive damages to our economy, especially the tourism industry. Many businesses, big and small, have to struggle to stay afloat, and workers who are laid off have to find other ways to put food on the table for their families.
The State Government had tried its best to help those affected through the various assistance under BKSS 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 involving a total fund allocation of RM2.6 billion. This is the second biggest total value of assistance from any state government besides the assistance from the federal government. The State Government is still paying some categories of the assistance until the end of the year to cushion the impact on the affected groups.
Despite the dire consequences of COVID-19, as Chief Minister I am highly confident that Sarawak can still be on track to achieve a developed and high-income status by 2030. This is not a hollow confidence because our economic fundamentals are strong, our policies structured and realigned after COVID-19, while our political stability is the envy of others.
The recent signing of the Commercial Settlement Agreement (CSA) with Petronas gives us added confidence that our state can derived more revenue from our oil and gas resources besides the mere five percent royalty that Sarawak used to receive, on average RM700 to RM800 million a year. The petroleum sales tax at five percent, of which Sarawak’s power to impose is recognised by the court, has given a new stream of revenue of about RM3.2 billion every year.
The CSA also paved the way for Sarawak to participate actively in the upstream and downstream activities of our oil and gas resources through Petros, the State’s oil and gas company. Sarawak is the only state where the onshore oil mining will be revived with two leases already granted to Petros.
Despite criticism from certain quarters, the CSA gives a better deal for Sarawak and no less important, reaffirms Sarawak’s right over its oil and gas resources and the validity of the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958.
The future is bright for Sarawak as long as we do not squander it. All of us must refrain from dwelling on and promoting racial and religious issues that would undermine our unity and harmony. The GPS Government strives to be inclusive as no one should be left behind. We must work together to develop Sarawak into a digitalised economy, leveraging on our rich natural resources and human talent.
Saudara dan saudari sekalian,
Dalam pada kita berada di ambang meninggalkan tahun 2020 dan melangkah ke tahun 2021, saya mengajak saudara dan saudari sekalian untuk terus mengukuhkan iltizam kita untuk menyumbang kepada keharmonian dan kemajuan Negeri Sarawak dalam apa jua kapasiti dan peranan.
Akhir kata, sekali lagi saya dan keluarga mengucapkan Selamat Hari Krismas kepada saudara dan saudari yang merayakan hari Krismas dan selamat tahun baharu 2021 kepada semua rakyat Negeri Sarawak.
Sekian, terima kasih.