YB Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey G Kitingan

Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Finally, the year 2021 is here, and I wish all of you a Happy New Year.

The year 2020 had not been kind to us. The COVID-19 brought the whole world to its knees. This tragedy did not leave a single life in this world untouched. Indeed, the year 2020 would long stay in our minds as the year when the world economy was shattered, lives were lost, and those left behind to pick up the pieces had been transformed socially and economically.

I need not remind us of the tragedy where parents lost their jobs and were left struggling to find ways to feed their families when the country was forced to go on extended lockdown to stop the alarming rise of the coronavirus.

Malaysia, and specifically Sabah, were not the only nations in this world that suffered the consequences of the coronavirus. The whole world went into lockdown, borders were closed, planes were grounded, and the people had to conduct their daily lives according to the new norms and adhere to SOPs.

In our federation, the Ministry of Health (MoH) had become the most critical and influential ministry, and all Malaysians must adhere to the SOPs the ministry has put in place.

While all these were unnatural on some level, on the other hand, there was some good news too. Malaysians rallied together and everywhere, and we read stories of charity, goodwill and kindness regardless of race and religions.

In our lowest and weakest moment, we have shown we are strong.

Even the good old Mother Earth got a deserved rest which saw a refreshing reset environmentally.

Therefore, this new year has brought with it a new hope as we adjust to a new norm, new socio-economic and a new political order.

Why a new political order? Because this year, 18-year olds will become eligible to vote and be voted as lawmakers. Automatic voter registration will also soon become possible. These young voters who are the future of our beloved nation would usher in a new political order and bring about a paradigm shift in the country’s administration.

Economically, we are entering a new phase with enhanced e-commerce and increasingly turning to digital currency with the broader use of blockchain technology and AI to access and analyse big data.

Cyberspace will be the new ecosystem, and economic and even political power will be in the hands those who can organise, harness and manipulate big data. In turn, the world will become one interconnected web, leading to new trends and new norms.

IR4.0 is our reality. This technological transformation will transform Malaysia’s economy as well as impact Sabah’s economy and future.

In Sabah, we will need to position ourselves early to take advantage of this digital economy, develop our digital economy infrastructure and internet connectivity to develop our potentials.

This will also open up new avenues and opportunities for foreign investors to come in and speed up Sabah’s progress and development in line with the GRS government’s vision of SABAH MAJU JAYA.

Sabah can be a new digital economy, Internet and an international shipping and logistics hub.

With Indonesia shifting its national capital to Kalimantan, Borneo Sabah is well -poised to leapfrog into a vibrant economic powerhouse especially if Sabah can regain its independence and full rights in Malaysia.

After the gloom of the Covid-19 pandemic, with positive aspirations, the New Year 2021 can be the turning point for the better for Sabah and Malaysians in Sabah.

Thank you!

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