SARAWAK is making progress in the right direction with its involvement in Indonesia’s Mentarang hydroelectric dam, said analysts.
According to Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) executive director Lee Heng Guie, the move will help bolster the state’s position as a regional powerhouse in hydropower development while also contributing to the ASEAN Power Grid (APG) initiative.
APG is an initiative to construct a regional power interconnection to connect the region, first on cross-border bilateral terms, and then gradually expand to sub-regional basis and subsequently leading to a total integrated Southeast Asia power grid system.
Speaking to FMT, Lee said Sarawak also stood to continue supplying surplus electricity regionally.
Concurring with Lee, Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellow Datuk Dr Madeline Berma further noted that Sarawak’s heavy investments in renewable energy would make it the centre of alternative energy in ASEAN.
She pointed out that this endeavour would create new economic and business prospects for both Sarawak and Sabah while bolstering business ties.
“For example, Sarawak has been exporting electricity to Kalimantan. With Nusantara to officially become Indonesia’s new capital next year, it will provide Sarawak with opportunities to be involved in building more hydroelectric dams in Indonesia,” she was reported as saying.
According to the news report, the Sarawak government owns 25% of the holding company for the Mentarang dam project through Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), along with PT Adaro Energy Indonesia TBK, which owns 50%, and PT Kayan Patria Pratama.
On March 1, Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and Indonesian President Joko Widodo attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the US$2.6 bil project.
Sarawak and Indonesia, according to Lee, should improve their cross-border accessibility by incorporating cohesive exit and entry checkpoints, more accessible transportation modes, and an integrated Customs, Immigration, Quarantine, and Security (CIQS) facility.
He also mentioned that Sarawak should capitalise on its competitive edge in resource-based industries, such as oil and gas, to forge bilateral relationship with Indonesia.
“There will be mutual benefits between Sarawak and Indonesia in trade, economic, business and investment if both sides work together at the government and private sector levels to forge strong bilateral economic relations with each other,” he said.
He also forecast that Sarawak’s construction and service industries would grow rapidly during the construction of the new Indonesian capital.
Meanwhile, Madeline said Sarawak should consider investing even more in Kalimantan given the numerous business opportunities available with the capital transition to Nusantara.
She believes that if Sarawak can offer Jakarta with everything it needs for the transition, from building materials, workforce, and machinery to food, services, transportation, and lodging, the state will benefit greatly.
“Also, culturally, Sarawak and Sabah share many things in common with Kalimantan, making it easier to conduct business,” she said. – March 7, 2023
Main pic credit: Seetao