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Sep 21, 2018

2/9/18 MAKING KUCHING TRULY THE CITY OF BORNEO .....exploring on New GOM-GOS working framework.

Worldwide, especially with the hungry Chinese and not wanting to be left India (later Brazil), in the next 5-10 years the world economic development will be very interesting to observe. The West due to their Capitalism Hunger is rampaging the oil rich Middle East and North Africa. Despite so, UAE with Dubai as its pillar is pulling away from the traditional Arabs norms and now is among the most busiest and prosperous trading place on earth. Accordingly, Istanbul due to the American hegemony actions may do better with the help of Russia and Iran (and possible China) and thus may reshape the future role and position of the America and the West. Nonetheless right here at home, due to prolong greed in our governing system, Malaysia as a whole and Sarawak in particular, is in great financial distress that warrant us to be much strategic and bold in our action. Herewith, I'm proposing something that we can look at as potential means to take us out of such distress and as well as to position ourselves better in this 21st century regional economic regatta. How could Sarawak; Kuching in particular can help to raise the whole Borneo, to the extend by 2050, Borneo collectively will turn to be the next World Economic Power. Let start with a vision of making Kuching the City of Borneo.

(2) The key economic issue facing Sarawak that I foresee now is that our economy may be moving to diminishing if not stagnation or digressing.  Sarawak all these while had been resources-based economic driven. Unfortunately the global demand over our resources is either moving to stagnation or down dwindling. Timber, oil palm, rubber, pepper and petroleum production, demand and pricing are no more to our advantage. Worst, Sarawak had not work hard enough to restructure her economic base to the form that keep her to a fore running position. We had not been smart and daring enough to push our economy in the forefront of others. Since 1960s to this end, we are still keeping to the traditional harvesting the natural economic endowment. We had not graduated beyond nature based economy. In this article, I'm focusing onto making Kuching urban setting to be internationalized as a meant to nurture healthy living of her population and Sarawak economic growth vis-a-vis all other regional development proposals that I had earlier written which among them are:  (1) (2) (3) (4)

(3) If the Bible (not clearly said in the case of the  Al Quran) narrative of the descendant of Eve and Adam was correct, one would wonder why did Allah sent Eve to Becca while Adam to India. Adam to India be it in Ceylon or Himalaya, such places were with better endowment as compared to Becca of the Arabia. I'll skip my speculation over the reason for the place(s) of descending of Adam, but let have a look at Becca the place of landing for Eve. Definitely, there are many perspectives for such choice by Allah. But in the case of Becca, let me try to lead readers to just one aspect of probably the numerous perspectives that we could explore. We can't exactly say, when did Adam and Eve descent to earth. Probably hundreds of thousands if not millions of years before. Even 1,400 years ago, there was nothing in Becca as compared to today Human Civilization Standard. Becca even 1,400 years ago was just barren desert with pockets of oasis. Eve, upon her landing, she might had been placed among those cavity-hills with the oasis for her basic survival needs. My such presumption is based on  an inferring to the lives of Hajar and Ismael upon their seclusion in Mecca by Abraham. Saie, which being said was the wandering of Hajar between Mt Marwan and Saffa,  I would believe must be the nature that happened to Eve at time of her isolation. She must had been made to wander just as Saie of Hajar before the coming of Adam. As Allah saying "Nothing that He did is without reason" thus my strongest predicament of the Hajar-Ismael fate in Abraham family squabble is an inference for His mahluk of all times. Thus for the case of Eve, then followed by Hajar-Ismael, why did Allah chosen Becca as their place of "exile"? Why did Adam and thus Abraham had a better place of "stay" as compared to their spouses?

(4) Eve and Hajar were the great mothers' of the mankind. Why indeed, the "harsh" treatment were imposed upon them, as compared to their men? Why not in the first place, Adam and Eve be landing together at the same place, say in the comfortable Mediterranean. Accordingly, why did Abraham need to send Hajar and Ismael to Mecca (Becca), a faraway place from Palestine where he and Sarah-Jacob were residing. Can't he just kept them in the nearby neighborhood? What indeed Allah signaling over all these for the good of mankind?

(5) In particular, what do all these have to do with Kuching and more important to transform Kuching into the Truly City of Borneo (CoB)? Firstly, I want to suggest the solution on how to make our economy to be better through urban development. Urbanize development is a must to take ourselves to a better state of being. Urbanize development has always been the better economic of scale for agglomeration of most of the human needs. If one cares, one could follow such wisdom of Allah through His creation of the olden days civilization be it in Nile, Euphrates, Ganges and Yang Tze. Old days Civilization started from the rivers (water). The original Sarawak and later Kuching, it started with the Sarawak river. For such reasons, for Sarawak, I'm focusing to Kuching as the potential for a conceptual better urban development. As per today, our economy is in distress. There seem to be some form of stagnation is happening. Structurally, we are coming to the Zero Sum Game of the economy. We seem to be meeting our economic plateau point by reason there are sectors that is cancelling the positive effect of the others. Definitely growth is there, but not really a healthy prospering growth to all. Unemployment among our graduates is high and even if they are employed, their salary doesn't commensurate with their academic qualification. The same applies to the rest of the population. People are unable to cope with the ever rising cost of living due to faster rising of cost of living as compared to net income growth.  Even if we look into the whole of Borneo, the third largest island in the world after Greenland and Papua New Guinea, with huge natural resources, we are still in the state of the Lower Third World hierarchy. Thus as I had said many times, we must take serious note or lesson from how Allah manage things as a clue to resolve our problem and improve ourselves. So much so, the best city development progression and purposes should emulate from His design and rationales.  Thus, I'm looking at Kuching vis-a-vis Mecca in my city development model thinking process. As Muslim, it is very ignorance if one can't see the beauty of Allah "wisdom's" in all of His creations. He placed Kaaba in Mecca and definitely by virtue of Mecca landscapes, He must be having great "wisdom" on how Mecca will evolve into a prosperous and harmonious city place that people could emulate all over despite its barren and isolated nature.

(6) Kuching comparatively to the early Mecca, there is nothing much there. Mecca was barren desert, and Kuching was peat and mangrove mudflat. Naturally both were barren places. One was with the least water endowment, while the later having too much. Secondly, both were least populated. Third, both were well isolated. Nonetheless Allah designed for these places was beyond human comprehension. Indeed there were so many the none feasible factors for Mecca and Kuching to be developed as a city far more to say a Centripetal City Place. Therefore, taking all these into a basket, there is no hope that Kuching should grow into the City of Borneo (CoB). But my belief is otherwise, for as I said, and as repeated in the Al Quran many times: "Nothing is created by Allah without its merit", thus there is nothing that Kuching couldn't emulate Mecca of the past to Mecca of today. With Mecca, indeed Allah wisdom is, there is nothing impossible if  one is determine and having passion and patience. Mecca was built from the ruble of the Kaaba by both Abraham and Ismael. From barren ruble, Mecca turns to be the World Largest Multi-Islamic Cultural Holly City, and In Shaa Allah it will forever expanding and evolving. Thus, Kuching can be developed into the City of Borneo, a City of Truly Borneo despite of all its handicaps just as the early Mecca.

(7) To me, from the way Mecca had evolved, from desert to thematic Multi-national Islamic Cultural City, Kuching could as well emulate such strategic wisdom ie to be developed along a strategic international theme. For such, based on its nature therefore my best presumption, Kuching could and must be developed into the City of Borneo.

(8) At time of Eve, Mecca was a one-person-city place. Today, Mecca has a permanent population of 1.53 millions but with at least 30-35 million visitors annually and it is growing probably at the rate of 3-5 percents a year. As an overall, Saudi Arabia is having 28.61 million population (2018), which means even deriving from the Pilgrimages, Saudi indeed should never having any economic or income issues in making the kingdom a prosperous and harmonious place to stay and visit. Indeed today Mecca should be a Multi-National Islamic Cultural City. There is no other city world-wide having such an aura, not even the Vatican City of Rome. No any other religion is now embraced by almost all of the world ethnics population, except Islam. Mecca initially was a focal City for almost all of the Arabs, Persian, African  and even Turks ethnicity and cultures. Today, indeed Mecca (and Madinah) is a City of Islamic Multi-Cultural setting, if politic is discounted from the making of the Saudi Arabia in general and Mecca-Madinah specifically. BaitulMuqaddis was the City that once having the aura of today Mecca, but Allah had made the Muslims to turn away from BaitulMuqaddis. In today City Planning sense, indeed as the doa by Abraham, the man whom revived Mecca (Kaaba) from ruble, "Oo Allah make this City a place of prosperity and harmony for all humankind", and so should it be to this days. Unfortunately the Saud had not made Mecca into Multi-National Islamic Cultural and Spiritual City. Indeed apart from its Islamic theological Central, Mecca for its original isolation is indeed a strength that Allah want us to uncover.  I presume, Allah may want us to see how Muslims should realise His saying "In diversity, you should celebrate for in its you will get to know each others" which to me, He wants us to see how the celebration of diversity could lead to unity, prosperity and harmony through justice.

(9) Now I will address the notion of the City of Borneo. Why Kuching? Why not Kota Kinabalu, Pontianak, Palangkaria, Banjar Masin, Balik Papan, Bandar Sri Bangawan (BSB), etc? Well surely, I admit it is all about vision. We must have a vision to place ourselves above others without making others worst off. Better off if our vision is meant for the good of all. I believe Sarawak ie Kuching can do it, so let get moving. While we are on our path to prosperity and harmony, so the rest must also be granted as such. Justice must be honored. Indeed my view, by making Kuching as the City of Borneo, such will be giving the phenomena of high tide raise all boats. I believe, KalBar, KalSel, and KalTeng will benefit from the making of Kuching CoB. Even Brunei, Sabah and KalTim would have the trickling effect at the later stage.

(10) City of Borneo, to my definition is a City that having the multi-cultural Borneo taste. Kuching should be made a place where the Bornean and the world could celebrate the multi-cultural and creativity of Borneo. It is a City of Borneo convergence. People, cultures, products and many others of Borneo should be there in Kuching for the world to celebrate. This is a City that is built over passing religious, racial, political, cultural and values differences. This is a City that resembles and appreciate the celebration of Allah created Tropical diversity. The tropical is green and important to the world for its content and celebration of diversity. Kuching must go along the same path of development.

(11) Definitely a vision must be grounded with all the strong backup rationales. What indeed are the solid advantages of Kuching over the others? Firstly let have a look at all the Borneo major cities. Bandar Sri Bangawan is well secluded due to its enclave by Malaysia. Its inland bound is very limited. Kota Kinabalu is far to the North. Again its inland connectivity to the rest of Borneo is limiting, though its international access is equally as good if not better than Kuching. Pontianak, Banjar Masin, and Balik Papan are southern bound coastal cities of Kalimantan. Their international access is limited through Jakarta. They are having international distance connectivity disadvantages. Thus from the spatial perspective, Kuching has the better international frontage either by land, sea and even air. Indeed Kuching has greater access to Indochina and Far East for the hinterland people and products of Borneo. Kuching is having greater hinterland networks and thus is having greater access to all the rich Borneo hinterland endowment. In 5-10 years time, Kuching is commanding the Central Place for Borneo. Building on this advantage, In Shaa Allah will amke Kuching sustainably in the fore front of the others.

(12) I'm postulating. Kuching is just about 40 miles from the Equatorial Line. The Equatorial Line crosses right through Pontianak, such makes it the Borneo Equator City. Kuching is just 40 miles North of the Equatorial Line plus its location toward the South China Sea, thus sunlight, humidity cloud cover, and wind nature of Kuching I would say is much challenging as compared to any other cities of Borneo. I believe Kuching is facing much challenging climatic regimes as compare to the others. In the electromagnetic sense, such is much tougher to address say as compared to lesser climatic problematic areas. These natural climatic challenges, if properly over come, I would predict, Kuching will give Borneo the best solution over Digital Communication environment. I presume, locational advantages and over coming climatic "challenges" is the best advantage for Kuching to be Borneo Digital Hub. Such advantage, gives Kuching the best digital communique positioning among others. Kuching can be made the Digital Gateway for the whole of Borneo.

(13) Borneo is a multi-cultural and religious region. The diverse culture and resources of Borneo given rise to multi-talents and creativity. All these could be celebrated at one place entity for ease of marketing and achieving the economic of scale. Kuching could take central role for such purposes.

(14) Accordingly, over the past 50-60 years, Kuching apart from BSB has the most socio-political stability as compared to the rest of Borneo cities. The multi-ethnicity of Sarawak had molded Kuching into a peaceful and harmony Administrative and Industrial City. The social balanced had kept Kuching to its peaceful and harmonious charisma. Such socio-political harmony of Kuching gives her the best asset to traject higher and faster from the rest of Borneo.

(15) With Kuching present locality advantages as centre for resources, cultural agglomeration and ICT Gateway potentials couple by its peaceful and harmonious sphere, thus I have a strong belief that Kuching can organise itself to be, first the Entre Port of Borneo, second Health, Educational, Arts and Cultural City, thirdly Industrial City, and fourthly Information Gateway of Borneo. Thus my scope of City of Borneo for Kuching covers the areas of International Trade, Tourism, Manufacturing and ICT Hub.

(16) Definitely, my spatial definition of Kuching CoB is stretching beyond the present Kuching. Indeed I'm looking at the space from Tg Dato in Lundu to as far as Tg Manis in Sarikei. No doubt, the present Kuching will be the core for Kuching CoB. Sematan, Lundu, Bau, Serian, Simunjan, Pusa and Tg Manis, I'm postulating as the metropolitan of Kuching CoB. Sematan, Pusa and Tg Manis need to be part and parcel of Kuching CoB for they are having the strengths to enhance the Natural Tourism facets, Bulking Port facilities and Industrial specialization. Sematan in Lundu and Sambas of KalBar are having great tourism potentials that could be developed so as to provide the synergy and economic of scale. Sematan-Bako Coastline and Serikin-Bau Limestone Hinterland offer great tourism opportunities development to the eastern of Kuching. Particularly the Tg Pok-Sematan Bay; the sandy and mangrove nature mixed of the coastline, is unique tourism feature of its own virtue. Accordingly, the rich fishing ground of Singkawang to Sematan sea area is a best gift by Allah for seafood loving population of the East. Nature and food-based tourism could be well place for the advancement of this region. The limestone hinterland of Lundu-Bau would provide the added Nature and Adventure type of tourism experiences.

(17) With the emergence of China as a rich State so much so, almost all Indochinese states vis Thailand, Chambodia, and Vietnam and even the Philippines are crazy in capturing their tourism demand. The Chinese-tourism is now dominated by the emergence of the effluent communities, so much so their liking is more toward built-up and high dense tourism activities. I have a strong believe, over time all these will fade away and people will be going back to healthy-nature-based tourism. Indeed Sarawak should now wisely capitalize the turning away of other parts of tourism-liking from the traditional Indochinese. We could build tourism heaven away from the Chinese craziness and thus capturing our own niche market.

(18) Pusa and Tg Manis, if well connected to Nanga Badau and Tebedu, they could play the great Bulking Export Points and Processing for KalBar, KalTeng and KalSel produces. Both Pusa and Tg Manis could be turned into Food and Food-based Industrial Centers with raw material be drawn form Kalimantan and as well as from the locals. A Bulking facilities could be explored in Pusa, Betong. I can foresee, Pusa can be developed into the Oleo-Chemical Industrial Hub to cater for Sarawak Southern Region, KalBar and KalTeng palm oil production. Accordingly, through proper strategic international arrangement trade between Malaysia and Indonesia, I can foresee, similar treatment for the KalBar and KalTeng forest and bulk mining produces. Pusa and Tg Manis can be the Industrial Centers for KalBar, KalTeng and KalSel produces. With such bulks export facilities be placed out of Kuching, not only will ease heavy vehicles from entering Kuching but most important, expansion for the down stream effects of such business will be better facilitated. Cheaper land for various other related development would be easily available. For long term urban sustainable development and as well as to position ourselves better into the regional food and food-based industrial development, I strongly suggest both Pusa and Tg Manis plus all the potential new growth center be well developed along the concept of green tropical cities.

(19) I'm thinking that we should be brave enough to look a the Tebedu-Pusa-Lubok Antu-Tg Manis as new growth coridor. The land in this corridor should be fully developed into multi-mixed agro-industrial source of raw material. Accordingly, infrastructural development and enhancement in the area would turn the area into strong economic hinterland for Kuching CoB. The Illustration provide to the left is my initial visualization of infrastructural development network for the region plus all the potential new growth areas that will spur from such initiatives. All these is needed to build a strong economic hinterland economies for the sustainable growth of Kuching. Most important, all these new growth centers would regulate the effect of immigration to Kuching. Kuching then could be well developed into Healthy Borneo Cultural City Center for it will be relieved of all unnecessary urban over crowding pressures.

(20) Indeed both Tebedu and Lubok Antu could be a great gateway for KalBar and KalTeng population and bulk produces. Inland Port facilities could be developed in these two places. What needed is for Sarawak to aggressively facilitate for such to happen. In this sense, Sarawak (and GOM) must have the courage to look at the bigger economic and mutual international gains from such facilitation. Infrastructure especially better road and probably bulk train access could be workout for the purposes. Indeed, the Tebedu-Pusa-Lubok Antu-Tg Manis corridor is having high potential for the advance oil palm and oleo-chemical industrial development if couple with those of KalBar. Accordingly, I can see Pontianak-Putu Sibau is best for the Kapuas International Ghost Ride Fiesta, from Vampire City (Pontianak) to Ghost Town (Lubok Antu) if we could take such seriously and creatively. Indeed good road network between Tebedu and Lubok Antu to Kuching will definitely facilitate for all the KalBar, KalTeng and KalSel arts and creativity inflow into Kuching, and thus making Kuchin a much prosperous and harmonious City of Borneo Cultural Celebration.

(21) Kuala Lumpur and Kuching should work on a best Spatial and Investment Plan on such an idea. Thereon GOM and GOS should work to the best arrangement on how to use our present earning from O&G and thus to really building a much higher growth and prosperity beyond O&G. As we know, O&G resources of the Nation is not going to be forever there. But an honest and smart synergy of GOM and GOS to work on the best return over our O&G resources would be the best for the State and as well as the Nation. I have a strong belief, BSB would love to place their interest to build greater wealth from  their present potential "diminishing" wealth. Both GOM and GOS could takeon BSB to their long term wealth interest creation. We can also work with Singapore.

(22) Sarawak indeed can offer almost all the required development impetus needed by KalBar, KalTeng and KalSel through the good working spirit of Sosek Malindo and BIMP EAGA. Our much advance utilities development could be exported to Kalimantan states. Both GOM and GOS should be having a very strong working arrangement to really building Sarawak to her best along the notion of enriching the neighbor ie the Kalimantan. I have a very strong belief that Brunei, Singapore, ADB and IDB would be more happy to chip in. Let make Borneo as our best foundation in transforming the Nusantara Economic Caucus as we had envisioned sometimes ago. Regatta, Top Spinning, Kite Flying and even Silat are our forefathers left culture and arts that we should seriously read in between the lines as our great strengths to be together and be strong.

(23) As per Kuching per se, to turn Kuching into CoB, GOS need to relook at reshaping Kuching Urban Fabrics to such Kuching should move to a modern green city touch. Numerous urban renewal and or infill need to be done. To name a few, Simpang Tiga Complex, Baddarudin Complex, the RTM-Telkom Complex, Brooke Dockyard, and former BinaMara should be revamped and turn all those into the modern setting for both local and visitors places of interest. In order to facilitate such urban renewal process Kuching should then be having a proper Integrated Modern Administrative Center (IMAC) to place all these public institutions to their most cost-effective public services delivery positioning. The present state of public institutions in Simpang Tiga, Badaruddin, RTM etc I would say is a shame of the State and Nation as we are moving into a Developed Nation. Each of these Complexes, if properly planned and developed on thematic approach, definitely would make Kuching a healthy working, living and a must visit CoB. As key component of CoB, facilities such as the international accord High Learning and Skill Development facilities should be well conceived to carter for Human Resource Development within the Borneo and Indochina. Accordingly, the present Kuching Historical City Zones should be enhanced to provide not only a lovely visiting place, but most important is to turn all those into the true multi-cultural setting of Sarawak in particular and Borneo in general. By virtue of our diverse ethnicity similarity with the rest of Borneo, by so doing, Kuching definitely will be capturing the whole of Borneo Cultural components, and thus giving the perspective of Truly Borneo images. Most important, the present Kuching had been known for its advantage in marketing the Borneo Creative Crafts. This aspect of the Borneo's Creativity could be well capitalise not only as key attraction to Kuching as CoB, but most important as a means to foster stronger Borneo Cultural Bonding. Accordingly, for stronger international marketing advantages, our City Landscapes should keep to the need to uphold our diverse tropical setting. We need to secure the West, Middle East and Far East Market by offering the best Green Tropical City Setting of Kuching. Borneo is tropical, keeping Kuching Sustainable Tropical Setting will add spice to our Kuching CoB vision. The present Kuching International Rain Forest Musical and Tatoo Festival is something that we must expand and sustain.

(24) In the advancement of today 21st century industrial revolution particularly wrt the 4.0 Industrial Generation, Borneo in particular is having great disadvantages. Our key setback is wrt to our infrastructural development gaps. Despite so, Kuching in particular is well located within the high potential major international trading route. So much so, if we dare to take a much strategic positioning, Kuching indeed can evolve into the Borneo ICT Hub. Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, Honolulu and even Sydney can be well connected to Kuching and the rest of Borneo if we could quickly harness the ICT framework to our advantages. For Sarawak to realize its Digital Economic Vision, to start with, we can first begin with the tourism related marketing, E-Education, E-Arts and Cultural Innovation, and as well as E-Medical. Thus, GOS need to move fast to integrate our present infrastucture development with the ICT Infostructure buildup.

(25) As the Kuching CoB build up going steady, we then should move as the Borneo Financial House of which ICT will then be well capitalized. For Kuching to be as such, we need to be smart and far sighted enough to work with Brunei, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo for the purposes. We need to work hard and smart with Kuala Lumpur to make Kuching as Borneo Financial Center. Sarawak, Sabah, Brunei and all the Kalimantan should join force to turn Borneo into the 2050 High Potential World Economic Power. I believe, Jakarta is ever ready to work with us so as to help them to ease Java from all the distress that they are now facing. Making Kuching CoB is helping Borneo to be the World Economic Power and thus easing Jakarta from the headache of Java's problems. Accordingly, definitely Sarawak as a whole will gain better footing. In Shaa Allah.

(26) Who would be the enabler for all these? If in the 1960s, there exist MNC to spear the economic development in the colonized states, such was 60 years ago. With today free flows of capital and expertise definitely with proper smart arrangement, all these could be packaged nicely to a win-win investments. Our key State GLCs plus many others in Kuala Lumpur, we can consolidate our experiences and strengths to be the movers and enablers together with all those private sectors that are now most eager to expand. What indeed immediately needed is for GOS to have a Comprehensive Public-Private Sector Economic Development and Investment Plan for everybody to work on.  Accordingly we must quickly established high competent and good governance system. Our present governing system must be revamped to the best cost-efficient. We need to have very proactive and high integrity Civil Service and Political System. And since Sarawak is quite an autonomous State within Malaysia, we should take such position into a much higher level, and thus working within the Federation Framework to move ourselves, the Nation and region into a more prosperous and harmonious footing.  In Shaa Allah.

Kuching, Sarawak
27 Sept., 2018


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