by Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 13: Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen wants Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to stop playing politics on urgent issues, especially those related to dilapidated schools.
He questioned the sensibility behind the much-lauded issue where the state government was ready to extend a RM1 billion loan to the federal government for the repairs and upgrading of dilapidated schools in Sarawak.
“The state government has the money, but why do you (the state government) insist to lend it to the federal and get it back again to repair schools. Why not just allocate the money to repair the schools?” he asked when addressing a press conference at the media centre at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex today.
Chong, who is also the Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, described the loan offer as a political ploy and tactic by Abang Johari and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).
“The issue of schools being a federal matter or otherwise does not hold water,” Chong argued.
“Why can’t you allocate the RM1 billion for the purpose (repair and rebuild schools) if the condition of the schools warrants such an urgent need of repair?”
He said the move could be equated to the GPS government holding ransom those students whose schools are badly in need of repair.
“Yet the government is holding RM1 billion back and use that as a political tactic to criticise the federal government,” Chong lamented.
He highlighted the allocation approved for the relocation and rebuilding of SK Ulu Segan in Bintulu and SK Maludam in Betong by the state government, as an example.
“The value approved for the proposed rebuilding of SK Ulu Segan was RM53 million and for the rebuilding of SK Maludam and Asrama Betong was RM48 million. But for next year, the budget to be approved tomorrow respectively for SK Ulu Segan is RM23 million and SK Maludam and Asrama Betong is RM20 million.
“Putting aside the prices of these two schools, which are overinflated, it shows that the state government can actually allocate money to build and repair schools,” Chong said.
He also reminded the state government that the present financial predicament of the federal government was partly due to the plundering by the former Barisan Nasional (BN) government, including GPS — as it was a coalition partner of the BN then.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong had, in his winding-up speech today, informed the august House that the chief minister had written to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng on Aug 1 regarding the state’s government offer to lend to the federal government RM1 billion to resolve the problem of dilapidated schools in the state.
However, the state government has not received any reply from Lim to date.
Manyin also pointed out that the previous BN government, in addition to the normal allocation, had approved RM1 billion to address the issue of dilapidated schools in 2018 and 2019.
He added that the allocation was over and above the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP) allocation. For the benefit of schools in Sarawak, Manyin hoped the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government would honour the RM1 billion additional allocation. — DayakDaily