By Karen Bong
JULAU, Nov 20: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg is confident Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will be given a new mandate in the impending 12th Sarawak Election to continue governing Sarawak and for him to fulfil his duties and responsibilities to the people.
He pointed out that Meluan incumbent Rolland Duat Jubin of Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) has requested RM25 million for another bridge and road projects for Nanga Lasi but he cannot make the decision now as his mandate has expired.
“I don’t have the mandate now but if the people vote for GPS, (this request) can proceed.
“I am confident I will be given the mandate soon and we will continue to develop many more areas in our state including Meluan. This means Nanga Lasi would not be isolated anymore with an upgraded bridge and new roads,” he said at the earth breaking ceremony for the Nanga Lasi bridge project at Rh Inting here today.
Abang Johari added that in a meeting earlier, there were proposals to link up Meluan and Julau by road to Bintangor, Sarikei, Repok, and Kanowit.
However, he emphasised that it can only be put into action after GPS has been given a new mandate by the people.
“This is my first time in Nanga Lasi. I came here by road from Sibu Airport so that I can see for myself the situation in Meluan as we want to expand the development here,” he said.
While development will require a substantial amount of funding, Abang Johari said Sarawak is blessed to have won the battle against Petronas in the collection of State Sales Tax (SST) that has increased the state’s revenue to implement and bring development to the people.
“Furthermore, we also have close relationships and can work with the federal government and this allows us to negotiate and sort out our problems and push for development, even though GPS is independent and not tied to Perikatan Nasional (PN). If Sarawak is strong, Malaysia will be strong too.”
With a strong mandate from the people, he said it will allow the Sarawak government to continue negotiating with Putrajaya as there are still many problems needed to be ironed out and resolved.
“This includes our aggressive efforts in pursuing Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). We will continue with what (the late Pehin Sri) Adenan (Satem) had started.”
Previously, he explained that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) wanted to amend only Article 1(2) of the constitution but the Sarawak government had objected as the amendment to Article 160 involving the definition of the Federation is critical.
“The current definition is based on the Malaya Agreement which Sarawak is never part of, and it is only right to amend according to the Malaysia Agreement, then we can defend our rights.
“These are the struggles of our coalition. I am getting old. I am 71 years old and someday I will need to step down. This means leaders will come and go but when we are passed the baton, it is the responsibility we have to shoulder.
“In my fourth year as chief minister, I have not taken leave yet,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nanga Lasi steel bridge project costing RM5 million will replace the old wooden footbridge and when completed, it will provide convenience to people, accessibility to cars, and safety to users.
This facility will benefit some 2,250 residents surrounding Nanga Lasi. Construction is expected to start in January 2022 and to be completed in a year by January 2023.
Assistant Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Datuk Julaihi Narawi, Julau MP Larry Sng, Repok incumbent Dato Sri Huang Tiong Sii, and community leaders were among those present. — DayakDaily