What is the reason behind the proposal for Sarawak's own currency?

03 Sep 2023 11:51am
Work Minister Nanta Linggi (right), Premier of Sarawak Abang Johari (left)
Work Minister Nanta Linggi (right), Premier of Sarawak Abang Johari (left)

SHAH ALAM - Works Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi's suggestion that Sarawak might introduce its own currency can be said to be quite surprising.

He said it is one of the measures that can be considered if the economy continues to be less encouraging.

However, the secretary general of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) asked that he not be considered a traitor to the country because he described the proposal as something that needs to be taken seriously.

"I hope people don't call me a traitor, but I'm serious.

"If we are so good at developing the economy, by calculation, the national economy should be strong," he said during a special podcast broadcast with Bual Studio and Reka Sound for Merdeka and Malaysia Day titled 'From Malaya to Malaysia: 60 Years'.

Nanta Linggi is of the view that the proposal was submitted because the overall income, including Sarawak's economy, has increased, but it needs to be analysed in more detail about the people's living standards before implementing it.

He added that if the economy in the land of Kenyalang is better than other states, then Sarawak's currency should be introduced.

"If Sarawak is better than others, why not introduce its currency? This is what I am trying to emphasise. However, when examining per capita income, it turns out that there are still areas where people continue to experience poverty," he said.

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Through a tweet on X social media platform on July 1, the World Bank's Chief Malaysian Economist, Dr Apurva Sanghi, informed that Sarawak is now a high-income state because its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita exceeds US$13,205 (RM61,608).

In the meantime, the Sarawak Premier, Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg, said the Sarawak Government currently does not intend to introduce its currency but instead will continue to use the ringgit.

According to him, an in-depth study needs to be carried out before making any decisions, including the proposal to introduce a currency for the state.

"This issue is quite difficult to explain; I don't know about Nanta's view," he said.

Although Abang Johari has clarified the situation by issuing a counter statement, it has to some extent raised the question of whether the matter may be discussed by the leaders of the state of Sarawak.

Is it a sign from the leadership of Sarawak to the Federal Government that at this point it has not yet been able to lower the value of the ringgit? This is because, according to the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) report on May 11, Abang Johari explained, the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of Sarawak increased from RM55,931 in 2020 to RM65,971 in 2021.

He added that the increase surpassed the country's GDP per capita at RM47,539, and Sarawak is now on the right track because it is an indication of more rapid progress for the state.

He stressed that Sarawak aims to double the state's GDP from RM136 billion in 2019 to RM282 billion in 2030, in addition to creating hundreds of thousands of additional job opportunities at the same time.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister in the Sarawak Premier's Department (Corporate Affairs, Information, and UKAS), Datuk Abdullah Saidol, said that Sarawak is one of the most stable in terms of political position compared to other states.