KUCHING, Nov 2: The 2019 Budget announcement barely touched on Sarawak, with only RM4 billion in development funds allocated for it.
Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said the Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) maiden budget for 2019 has not much to say about Sarawak, in fact, “Sarawak” was only mentioned five times by Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng.
“This is a glaring contrast to the previous government in practice whereby the previous government would always designate a separate chapter or section to specifically list down all the allocations of funds, benefits, policies and projects for Sarawak,” he said in a statement.
Sarawak’s equal partner status in the federation of Malaysia is untenable, Dr Sim pointed out.
He made reference to Chapter 3 of the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report 1962 which was dedicated to insert all the safeguards for Sarawak rights and position when forming Malaysia.
Accordingly the Federal Constitution also provides specific chapters and articles to stipulate special financial, rights and autonomy for both Sabah and Sarawak, he added.
“During the GE14 campaign, PH also set aside a separate ‘Pillar’ of promises for Sabah and Sarawak in their Buku Harapan that promised to ensure prosperity to the people of Sabah and Sarawak by closing the development gap between the Peninsula and the two Borneo States as well as specific attention would be given education and healthcare.
“Today, in Budget 2019, Sarawak has been shrunk to a status of a mere state without its own chapter,” said Dr Sim.
With the operational expenditures for education and healthcare are expected to be increased to RM55.1 billion and RM26.5 billion respectively, Dr Sim said it was totally unknown to Sarawakians on whether they were part of the beneficiaries of the increased expenditures or they were being marginalized in 2019.
He said Budget 2019 constitutes a prelude that sounded so bleak to Sarawakians that they would not be able to see any glimpse of hope in the forthcoming meetings of the Steering Committee conducted by the PH government which was meant to review and restore Sabah and Sarawak’s status as equal partners in Malaysia.
“Let’s listen to our fellow Sarawakians’ response,” Dr Sim concluded. — DayakDaily