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KUCHING, July 18: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg hopes the federal government will increase its development allocation to Sarawak by at least four-fold to enable the state to expedite its rural infrastructure upgrade.
He told the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) today that he had urged Works Minister Baru Bian to ensure the state be given its due allocation for development and infrastructure work, including roads, treated water, electricity, Internet, schools, medical clinics as well as agricultural and economic programmes.
Abang Johari explained that under the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, Putrajaya gave development allocation based on the size of the state population, which is generally about 10 per cent of the total Malaysian population.
The development allocation is sufficient for social projects but insufficient to develop a landmass that is 38 per cent of the country’s total landmass, he pointed out.
“This accounts for the relative lack of basic infrastructure and the current backwardness in the development of our rural communities.
“There is a need for a great leap forward among our communities in the hinterland to the modern world. This is a major error, and I hope the new federal government can correct it in their relationship with us,” he said in his winding-up speech.
Abang Johari said he had travelled to 187 rural areas across Sarawak since becoming chief minister in January last year. He agreed there was still much work to be done in trying to solve daily issues faced by the rural communities.
“Even though I have been part of the government that look after Sarawak for more than 30 years, I was unable to be totally involved in the planning and development of all issues that needed to be done by nature of the limited individual involvement in government of our respective portfolios and areas of focus.
“Now that I am in the position to have an overall view and total involvement, I can assure you that I am now fully committed to ensuring that our people are no longer deprived of their basic needs and the opportunities to a better and more prosperous life,” he said.
Abang Johari had previously announced a RM2 billion allocation to solve water woes in all water-stressed areas. The target is to complete them latest by next year. In addition, the state had embarked on a water grid master plan project to connect the whole state. This ambitious project is scheduled to start this October.
He had also announced roads, bridges and other projects across the state totalling about RM5.1 billion during his walkabouts since becoming chief minister. — DayakDaily