Terima kasih kerana menjemput saya untuk sama-sama meraikan kejayaan para wartawan yang telah memenangi anugerah di bawah pelbagai kategori pada malam ini.
Saya mengucapkan tahniah kepada saudara dan saudari yang berjaya pada tahun ini.
It is an honour to be here once again at the Kenyalang Journalism Awards 2021, to celebrate the best of the best that Sarawak media has to offer.
Our media in Sarawak has been a great help in disseminating information to the public, and hence plays a crucial role as the bridge between the government and the public.
The media was among the people out in the field when the Covid-19 pandemic first came to light, and the media has been instrumental in letting the public know of the changes in rules, cases updates, standard operating procedures and so on in making sure that all parties – businesses, workers, schools, students, government workers, the young and old – are kept updated on what is happening on the spot and to play our part to keep the pandemic at bay.
We are thereby grateful to have been able to assist the media in speeding up their vaccination last year, alongside other frontliners.
We are also in the midst of assisting the media in getting their booster doses to further secure them from the corona virus.
In doing this, we also acknowledge that the media has had to face financial challenges as well, whether it be cutbacks in their wages, additional Covid-19 related expenses, etc.
Therefore, I hope that the oneoff Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) for the media last year of RM1,500 would be of assistance in ensuring that the media are taken care of like we did for the other frontliners.
Lastly, I hope that the media will continue to embrace and highlight the many developments that is taking place in the state, such as the boutique airline to be operated by Hornbill Skyways, a state-owned airline company, to reduce our dependency on commercial airlines. – most importantly to explain the forward-looking considerations why the airport is being built and how the small airline would be operated.
As I said during the earth-breaking ceremony of the airport, it is a forward-looking decision that would help to generate the economy through the export of agricultural products as well as meeting demand for individual travel and tourism because this airport allows point to point travel which tourists prefer instead of transit travel.
The surrounding area covering 300,000 hectares will be developed into an Agrotech area to support viability of the airport’s operation.
Also, the RM108 million Bebuling Short Take-off and Landing Airport (Bebuling STOLport) project in Betong is a step closer to implementation.
It is one of the two new airports in the state — the other is the RM173.5 Bukit Mabong airport in Baleh, Kapit.
With these two new airports, we will be better able to increase connectivity for the people, and also enhance trade between areas of Sarawak as well.
Like my decision to pursue the Digital Economy policy in 2017, people were skeptical about it initially.
They said why want to go digital when our basic amenities like water and electricity supplies are still insufficient.
They were correct but if we don’t start somewhere we will always be left behind. As I used to say the pandemic proved that my decision to embrace digital technology was correct as online transactions became the norm in our everyday lives when CMO after CMO were imposed.
Now that the State is facing the 12th Election, I am sure the media will continue to play its rightful role to help voters to make an informed decision so that a good and strong government will be put in place after December 18th to continue developing the State, Insyallah.
On those notes, once again I wish to congratulate all the winners and may others who do not win this time around try harder next year.