Abang Jo: Not even one rundown school repaired

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg. (file photo)

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By Chris Bishop

KUCHING, Feb 18: Sarawak is considering deferring payment of the remaining RM300 million to the Federal Government following the latter’s failure to repair rundown rural schools in the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said not a single school has been repaired although a total of RM700 million loan repayment has been made to settle the RM1 billion loan which the Sarawak government owes to the federal government.

“If they (the Federal Government) fail to do so (to repair rundown schools), how can I continue to pay.

“I am concerned that the amount paid which should go to ‘consolidated fund’ (for repair of dilapidated schools in Sarawak) is used elsewhere,” he said at state-level ‘Kolokium Keagungan Al-Quran’ held at the Sarawak Islamic Complex Hall here today.

The Sarawak government paid the first RM350 million to the federal government as repayment of loan in August last year. This year February 7, a second repayment of RM350 million was made.

Since the federal government failed to even repair one school, Abang Johari said Sarawak government may not settle the remaining RM300 million.

“We kept our part of bargain under the agreement but the federal government fails to do so.”

Abang Johari explained that it had been agreed between the Sarawak government and the federal government that Sarawak would settle the loan repayment in advance but the repayment made by Sarawak must be used for repairing of dilapidated schools in Sarawak.

He said Sarawak has been expecting some of the poorest schools in the state to be restored by using the payments made yet nothing happened.

“The victims are our students from the rural areas and this (the failure to repair not even one school) is making me upset,” he said.

Abang Johari explained it was normal for Sarawak to take loans from the federal government as this was provided under the Federal Constitution.

The chief minister also clarified that Sarawak Public Works Department (State JKR) was not authorised to carry out any repairs as federal Public Works Department (federal JKR) was the implementing agency.

As of 2019, a total of 1,020 schools across Sarawak are classified as rundown schools with 415 of them needing urgent repair.

Education, Science and Technology Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin will meet with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in March 12 to discuss on the issue.—DayakDaily.