KUCHING: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has pledged to give more attention to developing Sabah and Sarawak in line with its new Shared Prosperity Vision policy.
The Prime Minister acknowledged that the previous administration in Putrajaya did not give their full attention to both states.
“If we look at the situation in Sarawak, it is an oil-rich state but development is not distributed equally among Sarawakians as well as the peninsula.
“Based on studies we have done, we need to focus more on Sarawak and Sabah so the people of both states will be treated equally as those in the peninsula, ” he said at a meet-and-greet event organised by Sarawak Bersatu here yesterday.
Dr Mahathir said this did not mean favouritism towards Sarawak and Sabah but was based on the reality that development in both states was still lagging behind the rest of the nation, particularly in the rural areas.
“Sarawak is very much larger than other states in the peninsula, development here is lagging except in the urban areas.
“In the rural areas, we find the situation there is not to what we desire, ” Bernama quoted Dr Mahathir as saying.
“That is why the Federal Government has introduced the new policy for the nation and through this, we will see a fair and equal distribution of wealth and shared development.”
Elaborating on the new policy that was announced after he had chaired a special Cabinet meeting last Saturday, Dr Mahathir said the implementation of the Shared Prosperity Vision policy would differ from policies introduced before this.
“We want this shared prosperity to be achieved at the end of our hard work, and not just at the beginning.
“This time we want to ensure the underprivileged are given opportunities, on the condition that they work hard and fully use these opportunities, and not just to sell their licences and contracts.
“Sadly, they lack the skills and are incapable. To rectify this situation, we will train them, teach them financial management and ways to manage the business so that when they get opportunities, they do not sell them to the wealthy, and instead use those opportunities to raise their income.
“With that, the gap between the poor and rich will be reduced, ” he said.
Dr Mahathir said the policy had been carefully planned to ensure its successful implementation, and hoped that it would be fully backed by Malaysians.
“If we give out opportunities but the recipients themselves do not want to improve their capabilities, then this (existing) cycle will continue, but if they are willing to work and train hard, be honest by not selling the opportunities given to them, then InsyaAllah, they will succeed.
“We have managed to outline and understand how this shared prosperity policy can be achieved.
“The government is doing this as it is our duty to work for the people, but the people themselves must be ready to embrace this new policy for it to be a success, ” he said.