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KUCHING, Jan 29: The Sarawak government must now be transparent about the parties involved in the plans to erect the ‘country’s highest flagpole’ in Petra Jaya, which is reported to cost up to RM30 million, says Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.
In a statement issued yesterday (Jan 28), the Office of the Premier of Sarawak (OPS) clarified the private sector is funding the RM30 million ‘tallest flagpole’ projector as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) contribution in conjunction with Sarawak’s 60th anniversary as a party to the formation of Malaysia.
“The statement by the Premier’s Office to now claim that it is a project funded by the private sector as a CSR contribution opens up more questions than answers, and they cannot just push the matter to CSR and wash their hands off the matter.
“It is thus imperative that the government is transparent and continues to be held accountable on this matter to ensure it is not merely an afterthought due to the backlash and, more importantly, to ensure that no public funds are being used for this project nor are there conflicts of interest in the matter,” Dr Yii asserted in a statement today.
He went on to say that it should include not only revealing the identity of the private entity willing to spend so much money on a flagpole, but also past, present, and potential future dealings with the Sarawak government to ensure that there is no conflict of interest or that such an endeavour is not used as a form of inducement for further or future dealings.
“On top of that, it is important to have a clear breakdown of the cost of the project, which is said to be 99m (tall) and reportedly costing up to RM30 million,” he added.
Dr Yii continued stating that, in comparison, the tallest flagpole in the world, which stands at 171m and is located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, cost less and was built for SAR18.7 million, which is roughly USD4.9 million (~RM21 million).
“It also opens up the question of who initiated the idea of such a project. If the private entity initiated it, then why did the Sarawak government approve such a project when there are many other more important priorities for which RM30 million could go a long way to address and directly benefit general Sarawakians?
“Knowing the real needs of Sarawakians, the government could have easily advised the “generous” company to better use such funds to invest in public infrastructure, or even in our health or education, or to feed our poor in the community.
“That is why I continue to hold on to the belief that this clearly is a case of misplaced priority and a misplaced ‘obsession of optics over substance’,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily