MIRI: It has been two years and three days since Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg took office as Chief Minister of Sarawak on Jan 13, 2017 following the untimely demise of Tan Sri Adenan Satem.
For the first two years of his chief ministership, Johari chose to focus on numerous mega plans to develop the LRT system in Kuching, export hydrogen gas and initiate digital transformation of the economy.
The mega projects have not seen fruition as yet.
Two days ago, as Johari entered his third year in office, he came to Miri and announced that Sarawak is charting its own development initiatives in the low-cost housing arena that was under the jurisdiction of the Federal Government.
The state government, he said, had kick-started a set of key development initiatives, among them the most important is to build low-cost houses priced between RM90,000 and RM150,000 each.
Johari launched the state-level initiatives at a ceremony in Miri recently.
These initiatives were dubbed “Initiative Team Abang Jo”.
The announcement that the state government was venturing into building low-costs houses has got to be Johari’s most relevant policy for Sarawak since he became CM.
Johari said Sarawak will venture into its own low-cost housing schemes as those built by the Federal Government were costly.
“The affordable houses built by the Federal Government under the national housing policy costs about RM300,000 per unit.
“That is too costly for many people in Sarawak.
“The state government has decided that we must initiate our own low-cost housing projects that are affordable.
“We will start pilot projects this year in Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Bintulu.
“This year, we target to build at least 2,000 units, and each unit will be priced between RM90,000 and RM150,000,” he said.
Those eligible for these units are those who have a household income of between RM800 and RM2,500 per month, he said.
Johari said other key initiatives included implementing 324 grassroot projects statewide to benefit the people.
A total of RM6.24bil has been alloted for the 324 projects, he said.
Johari earlier held a development meeting with several state Cabinet ministers to discuss the latest developments involving infrastructure development, coastal road and bridges projects, water and electricity supply projects, and agriculture development projects.
Several state ministers attended the event, including Family, Women and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian and Public Utilities Minister Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.
At the ceremony, the guests also cut a cake to mark the second year of Johari’s term of office after taking over on Jan 11, 2017.
It is good that at the event, Johari did not bring up politics.
His focus on socio-development, especially his announcement on the state’s plans for low-cost housing, is certainly a step forward.
It looks like Johari is getting his priorities right now.
What we need is to see the low-cost houses built, and the poor in Sarawak given the chance to own a house.
There are thousands of poor living in both rural and urban localities in this vast state.