MIRI: The Sarawak state government will make it a priority to promote the use of Mandarin language in its drive to establish better Sarawak-China ties in tourism and business.
Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state considers Mandarin of equal importance with English and Bahasa Malaysia.
Sarawak, he said, wants to lure at least RM32bil in investments from China this year.
He added that since the state plans to attract China businesses, industrialists and China government-linked companies, there is a need for Sarawakians to learn Mandarin.
Speaking at a Chinese New Year gathering organised by the Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) Miri-Sibuti committee on Friday night, he said China has the potential to become the biggest investor in Sarawak.
“The state government sees the need for people to be multilingual.
“In Sarawak, we consider English and Bahasa Malaysia as being equally important.
“Now, Mandarin will be of equal importance with English and Bahasa Malaysia,” he said.
He added that there are plans to promote the use of the language at schools, institutions of higher learning as well as the work place.
“The businessmen, industrialists and development agencies from mainland China will play a big role in helping to propel Sarawak into the future.
“Malaysia is already getting some RM160bil in foreign direct investment from China.
“We foresee that we can secure at least 20% of China investments for our state,” he said.
As such, he added that it was necessary for the people of Sarawak to be proficient in the language in order to communicate better with Chinese investors.
Abang Johari also said Sarawak will step up efforts to market the state’s natural assets to tourists from China.
This state has natural assets such as mountains, beaches, caves, jungles and rivers, he said.
Abang Johari, who is also State Tourism Minister, said there is a big market for China tourists keen on enjoying nature and adventure, and Miri could be the entry point from the north.
He stressed that he will continue to uphold all the good policies that had been put in place by the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
Adenan passed away on Jan 11 and Abang Johari was appointed to take over on Jan 13.