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By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, March 10: State Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen claims mismanagement of the state’s resources is the reason many Sarawakians are poor despite the state registering the third biggest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Malaysia.
He said this was apparent as the rich in the state, particularly the ‘Big Six’ (referring to the six biggest timber firms in the state), gets richer while the poor gets poorer.
Chong was commenting on a statement by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg recently that the state’s GDP did not reflect the true income of Sarawakians because the bulk of the state’s revenue is being taken by Putrajaya.
“We do not deny that Sarawak does contribute to the national coffer from our oil and gas revenue, including income tax and Goods and Services Tax (GST) now known as Sales and Service Tax (SST). However, Sarawak is rich not only because of oil and gas. We are rich because we also have coal, we used to have gold, we have timber and abundance of land.
“All these natural resources are all managed by the state government. Even taking away the oil and gas, these natural resources will still make Sarawak one of the richest states in Malaysia.
“But the management of these natural resources by the state government has made the majority of Sarawakians poor while making a handful of selected Sarawakians super rich. That is the crux of the matter,” he told a press conference this afternoon.
Chong called on Abang Johari and the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led state government to review its ‘pro-cronies’ policies instead of just making some sweeping statement trying to divert attention from the wrong they had done to Sarawakians.
“You look at our timber companies, how rich they are. Look at those coal mining companies. Yes, some we have contributed to the federal government, but likewise, the federal government also pays for the teachers’ salaries, the doctors, nurses, police, army, all these. So, of course, we have to do the calculation to see whether we contributed more or less,” he added.
Chong suggested that Abang Johari also accuse the timber tycoons of having taken away Sarawakians’ wealth, too.
“And along with it, there is a lot of government contracts that have enriched and created these construction conglomerates. Basically, the state government contracts are awarded without open tender.
“I think he should also add in that the Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) cronies are equally guilty of taking the wealth of Sarawak from Sarawakians,” he said. — DayakDaily