Saturday, June 25, 2011

Opinion: Sarikei's job dilemma - No vacancy?

Where are the jobs in Sarikei? Why are youngsters leaving town to study or to make a living? Why are they not coming back to stay? How can we reverse the labour and brain drain and move the cheese back to Sarikei?

Sarikei pineapples at Wharf Road. 2011

1. Develop adjacent industries
Sarikei is dubbed the food basket of Sarawak. Agriculture is a subsistence industry and is at the lowest level of the value chain. We have the best pineapples from Bukit Huang but do we want to continue to sell just raw pineapples? What about light industries to produce canned pineapples, dried pineapples and pineapple tarts? There are more than 10,000 acres of oil palm plantation in the sixth division and yet you will see lorries loaded with the raw produce heading towards the Saratok and Sibu factories. Does Sarikei want to remain at the bottom of the food chain?

Sarikei-Tanjung Manis got into the pre-election limelight. 
Borneo Post. 3rd Apr 2011

2. Highway to Tanjung Manis or no way?
Enough has been discussed on why Sibu can secure budget to construct a highway to cross 7 rivers and yet Sarikei can not even build a 15km road from Bukit Huang to this gold nugget at the end of the rainbow. Need you be reminded of the mega investment by the government in Tanjung Manis? A halal processing hub, fisheries, light industries and an ageing airport waiting for more traffic. Sarikei can cross pollinate with Tanjung Manis to create jobs in the light industries.

Sarikei hospital 2004 (opened in 2006)
Kampung Seberang

3. Healthcare center of the lower Rejang
You will be awed by the huge infrastructure and great facilities of the Sarikei Hospital at Kampung Seberang but when you speak to the uncles and aunties on the street, you can sense the disappointment. Why? We have the hardware but where is the software? The doctors and 2 specialists are mostly foreign doctors on contract.

Why will doctors with Sarikei DNA beat a path back to Sarikei when they can earn more much more in the private practices elsewhere? Can we improve the compensation package to attract them back to the public hospital? If not, why not create the infrastructure for private specialists to set up consultation practices (starting with alternate fortnights on location) next to the hospital so that they can rent the operating theatre (OT) outside office hours? This is how some of the private clinics operate in Kuching because of the huge capital costs needed to have their own CT scanner and OT.

Sarikei can attract retired folks if the healthcare is good. Can Sarikei be the healthcare hub of the lower Rejang instead of sending our patients to Sibu and Kuching?

Sarikei St Anthony's School - Form 5 and staff. 1968
Source: Aloysius Ling

4. Education hub of the lower Rejang
What do Curtin University, INTI college and Swinburne University have in common? They are not in Sarikei and yet Sarikei and its hinterland are sending our students to Miri and Kuching. It's time for Sarikei to set up our own twining programs with reputable universities. An education hub brings along its associated benefits to the economy - jobs, rental yields, food and beverage outlets, entertainment centers, etc.

Pandaw cruise ship, 2011
Sarikei's former customs wharf, Rejang River

5. Can tourism save the day?
Not really. Tourism helps but with packaged tours from Pandaw and Intrepid, the benefits reach only those that the tours touch - the longhouse in Bayong, the tour guides, the drivers, the handicraft sellers and food and beverage vendors. Tourism will bring more jobs only if the tourism ministry can help the towns along Rejang River develop cohesive expertise to promote and target tourists that do not travel on the luxurious Pandaw cruises. ie. grow the pie by targeting different market segments.

Sarikei pineapple statue and goods trolley. 2010

Sarikei can remain oblivious to the obvious fact that our cheese has moved to other towns and countries or we can move the cheese back and eat it with our kom pia.


wubai500 said...

1. Develop adjacent industries
Sarikei will remain at the bottom of the food chain. Govt is always giving support on agriculture but when comes to marketing, that is your own problems lah, "jual dekat maket lo" "tapi tuan itu kounsil tidak mau kasi lesen o" " oh itu bukan kuasa saya olang o"

2. Highway to Tanjung Manis or no way?

Yes way but wait wait wait wait ..... until dunno when. Think back why they want to take away tg. manis from sarikei and give it to Mukah which is hundreds of km away. If the govt want to give access for tg. manis to sarikei, it already happened years back when it is still under sarikei administration.

3. Healthcare center of the lower Rejang

You will continue heard the "bee boo bee boo bee boo" passing the town to sibu GH. Why don't they just convert it into University hospital as it already has all the hardware.

4. Education hub of the lower Rejang

Another shadow college will come out soon...the next general election. So get ready your enrolment form.

5. Can tourism save the day?

Build a descent hotel for tourist to stay before asking them to Come. Or maybe we can promote the paranormal adventures by asking them to stay at our hotels which is facing the graveyard.

Ong said...

Small town life is boring for young people. With a plane ticket they can be in Singapore, KL, HK, Australia in a matter of hours.
Small towns in Sarawak need more than malls, hotels or good job to attract youngsters to stay back. What drove people away from Sarawak and Malaysia is the corrupted political system. Reading about those Tiab and Najib controlled news media just
making everyone wants to leave the country.

Anonymous said...

Sarikei must build on its rich pool of biodiversity potentials.
Local gov should play a leading role to create or attract biotechnology industries based on the existing local products such as sago, pepper, rubber, and pineapple to name a few. Do not follow the destructive path of other cities which emphasized on uncontrolled developments and wastage of natures gift.

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