Sarawak aspires to be the Estonia of Southeast Asia

Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg at the launching of the Sarawak Multimedia Authority office in Kuching today.

KUCHING: Sarawak hopes to be the “Estonia” of Southeast Asia through the development of its healthcare via virtual reality technology, Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg said today.

He wants Sarawak to emulate Estonia, which is globally known for its advanced digital society.

“We want to upgrade the virtual and augmented reality technology in the state, particularly in healthcare,” he said at the launch of the Sarawak Multimedia Authority office here.

According to him, the development of virtual reality technology would enable medical experts to navigate the human anatomy and perform remote surgeries on their patients.

Two international medical institutions had shown interest in establishing hospitals in Tabuan and Kuching following the state government’s plan to upgrade the virtual reality technology for healthcare, he said.

The plan, still in the initial stage, has received the Sarawak Planning Authority’s (SPA) approval. The hospitals would focus on the treatment of cancer, heart ailments and new diseases, he said.

“This (the establishment of the two medical institutions) will definitely boost the state’s medical tourism and hopefully, we’ll become the ‘Estonia’ of Southeast Asia,” he said.

Abang Johari said the state government was also looking at attracting technology companies to invest and assist in the upgrading of connectivity in Sarawak.

On talent development, he said the state government, through Yayasan Sarawak, was negotiating with Stanford University of the US to allow two eligible Sarawakian students to further their studies there next year.

The London School of Economics and the Cambridge University in the United Kingdom had earlier agreed to set aside two seats each for Sarawakian students to pursue their tertiary studies annually.

The seats, which would be distributed equally among Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera students in the state, was to produce the right talent so that Sarawak could be at par with other developed countries, especially in terms of technology and economic development, he added.