Pictorials by Hazemi Hj Entek and Affendi Mohd Yusof
Rural Sarawak populace income would be bigger than their urban counterparts once the younger generation successfully adapt to the knowledge-based economy that require skills and sophisticatedequipment.
Chief Minister Pehin Seri Abdul Taib Mahmud stressed that the younger generation must see Internet beyond fun, and must start asking themselves what they want to do in live now.
"They must think and must not decide on their career until they knew how much are they going to get, what will they earned because the economy based on knowledge require skills and knowledge," he stressed, in his keynote address at Betong Division 10th Celebration in Dewan Tan Sri Kalong Ningkan, Betong today.
Taib said big scale economy is steadily taking shape in Sarawak with the influx of international investment, and factories with build up areas more than 1 kilometer long are currently built in Mukah and Samalaju.
"Painting jobs for these buildings alone would need generate millions (for the business-minded rural populace)," he said, adding that Sarawak are currently short of labour with technical knowledge to meet the big industries demand.
Taib said Sarawak is placing highest priority to technical knowledge to realise our pursuit of industrialisation, and training would be given to the rural populace to make sure they particpate and play bigger role in the Sarawak economy.
It is an open secret that rural areas are very rich in resources and raw materials, but many factors like communication and transportation are hampering earlier plan to develop the hinterlands.
Taib said he introduced The Catch Back Plan to mengepong the more advance area and make our rural populace equally competitive and ready for the modernisation challenge.
"The traditional rural economy will no longer be able to meet the demands of the younger generation who have higher expectations in life, if you have rubber trees you will end up not having people to tap them,"he jokingly said.
Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr Alfred Jabu in his welcoming speech said Betong aimed to have 50,000 population in the next 10 to 15 years from its current 12,000, thus requiring greater social facilities.
"130 acres of land within 5 kilometer radius from Betong town centre to be developed into Family Park and recreation," he said.
Jabu said Betong have witnessed development by leap and bound over the past 10 years, from a small district in the rural area into a modern divisional administrative centre with many high performance secondary schools, community college, skills centre and polytechnic.
"An economic seminar was held yesterday and the resolution made would be submitted to the Chief Minister," he said, adding that the brainstorming session was lead by Minister Of Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas, whom is Betong MP.
Jabu said Betong Division Economic Report 2011 to be submitted to Chief Minister clearly reflect the achievement of government development transformation programmes implemented for the benefit of Rakyat until December 2011.
Betong, he added also subscribe to the importance of producing special niche food product where Premium Grade Beras Bajong has been registered as Intellectual Property under GIS, mechanised farming has been introduced into Lubok Nibong Rice Growing Area.
On plantation industry, Jabu said in the next three years three oil palm mills would be built by the private sectors to cater for the steadily growing sector, while a Rubber Processing Factory at Debak undertaken by China company employs 85% local.
Not forgetting the less fortunate Jabu said poverty eradication programme are being carried out to cover Engkilili, Lubok Antu, Betong, Saratok, Julau and Pakan Districts where high yielding rubber would be used as main crop.
Jabu support and welcome Bumiputera Trust Fund (TEGAS) that were aimed at providing training for skilled workforce in technical subjects at certificate and Diploma levels.
"We hoped TEGAS can be collaborated with our existing facilities in Betong such as vocational school, technical school, MRSM, Gitmara, community college and Metro Polytechnic," he stressed.