Abang Johari (seated centre) speaks at the press conference while his deputies Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas (seated, second left) and Datuk Amar Dr Sim Kui Hian (seated, second right), and other ministries look on. – Photo by Information Department

KUCHING (Nov 16): The extension of the Autonomous Rapid Transit (ART) to Serian will bring the division one step closer to becoming a “mini New Zealand”, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said for Serian to become a “mini New Zealand”, facilities should be developed for it according to its nature.

“It is a rural place, not remote, but in between Kuching and Serian. Serian is more or less still rural, but more or less with modern infrastructure.

“That is why ART will be extended to Serian,” Abang Johari told a press conference after chairing the fifth State Development Coordination Committee Meeting at the Serian Conference Centre today.

“New Zealand’s population is about five million, so their economy is based on culture and agriculture. If I see it from the country’s model, Serian can also be New Zealand.

“Serian has the landscape where there are mountains and rivers, and cultures.

“New Zealand has the Maori culture. Here (Serian) has its own cultures, specifically the Bidayuh community and others,” said Abang Johari.

He said after Sarawak has established its own airlines in the near future, tourists could be brought to Serian and stay in homestays there to experience the local culture.

Adding on, he targeted Serian to have a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of RM1.4 billion by 2030.

“At the moment, Serian’s GDP is RM600 million, meaning we have another RM800 million to go.

“The total of goods and services in Serian must be between six to eight percent to enable it to record a GDP of RM1.4 billion.

“I believe it can be achieved provided the infrastructure is ready and Serian can be another tourist centre because it is not far from Kuching and it has natural attractions,” Abang Johari said.