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BETONG, March 12: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has taken to task critics who accused him of merely paying lip service over his announcements of development projects, especially mega ones.
Saying they (projects) were not ‘hot air’, he said time was needed to implement them as certain procedures had to be followed.
“We need at least one or two years from preparing to tendering and awarding the tenders before the actual implementation can be carried out.
“I hope the people will bear with us,” he said during the ‘Dinner with Community Leaders of Betong Division’ here yesterday.
Abang Johari said his announcements of the airport project here and the electric bus project for Kuching were among those that had been questioned.
“But then we have just launched the electric bus for Kuching, and we planned to get a few more, plus the hydrogen type. Some people had been doubtful but the bus is there now.
“We, too, have placed an order for a Cessna transport aeroplane that can bring three containers to be used in the proposed Betong Airport,” he said.
He added that for the airport itself, a sum of RM101 million had been set aside.
“As long as GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) rules the state, all announced projects will be carried out,” he reiterated.
Meanwhile, according to him, some RM650.3 million worth of development projects had been approved for Betong Division in the last two years.
These included RM199.5 million for various roads and RM102.4 million for water supply projects.
“Some of these projects had or are currently being or will be implemented in due time,” said Abang Johari.
Abang Johari also announced new projects worth RM33 million during the dinner.
They included RM18.5million for roads and RM10 million for Betong town flood mitigation projects.
He said they were vital as the division had great potential for modern agriculture.
Later, Abang Johari presented letters of appointment to newly appointed community leaders.
They include Temenggong Richard Mulok Entring for the Iban community and Temenggong Piee Alwi for the Malay community.
In his speech earlier, his deputy, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, hoped the government could consider helping to develop Betong’s tourism potential.
“We have Bukit Sadok, which was the last bastion for Dayak Iban nationalist warrior Rentap in his fight against the Brooke White Rajah rule.
“This is of great historic importance to us besides its scenic and pristine surroundings,” said Uggah.
He said with the state Coastal Road expecting to pass through Betong town, the site would be of special attraction to visitors.
Uggah, who is also the Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, also hoped the government could consider appointing more community leaders to serve the fast-growing population.
He added Betong needed affordable housing projects, too.
Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, Minister of Public Utilities Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Layar assemblyman Gerald Rentap Jabu and State Secretary Tan Sri Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani were among those present. — DayakDaily