By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, May 19: Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen (PH-DAP) was fast to come to the defence of his party’s national chairman Lim Guan Eng by stating that the latter’s infamous “Sarawak will go bankrupt” statement was made during the time when the Sarawak government was keen to build a Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Kuching.
To him, Sarawak has not gone bankrupt after the statement was made because Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg finally dropped the idea of going ahead with the project.
“(Sarawak is) not bankrupt because at the time when the statement was made it was at the height of the then Chief Minister (Abang Johari) wanting to push for the LRT project which I believed would empty our state reserves. It would involve tens of billions.
“My colleague here in Bawang Assan (assemblyman Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh) can testify to that. He (Wong) had also made a statement on that note that if there is no prudent budget, the State’s finances will be in a very worrying situation.
“I am glad that Yang Berhormat Premier at the end of the day, agreed to drop that LRT project which would cause a huge dent to our state coffers,” said Chong, who is also Democratic Action Party Sarawak chief before ending his debate on the Forests (Amendment) Bill 2022 at Sarawak Legislative Assembly today.
Chong said this in response to Meradong assemblyman Datuk Ding Huang Hiing (GPS-SUPP) who voiced out that far from being bankrupt as predicted by former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng three years ago, Sarawak has gone from strength to strength.
Before ending his debate on the same Bill today, Ding suddenly revisited the statement made by Lim.
“I wish to point out that (there is) a former federal Finance Minister who claimed Sarawak is going to go bankrupt within three years a few years back and yet the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) Sarawak government is going from strength to strength.
“The Premier of Sarawak (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg) has proved him wrong by tabling a Sarawak budget of over RM10 billion for the past few years, with over 70 per cent being allocated as development funds.
“With innovative financial maneuvers through various taxes, dividends and revenue reengineering as we clearly see in the two amendment Bills (the Forests (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022) that were tabled in this sitting, we are sure to achieve the target of becoming a high income state in 2030,” said Ding.
During Sarawak DAP’s dinner themed ‘Sarawak Here We Come’ on June 21, 2019, Lim had said that Sarawak would go bankrupt in three year’s time if the GPS coalition continued to govern Sarawak.
He said the State’s coffers of RM30 billion will be exhausted in three years if GPS were to maintain Sarawak’s annual budget of RM11 billion each year. — DayakDaily