“Devt, including STR, much needed to improve rural livelihoods”

Datuk Seri Doris Brodie

KUCHING, May 18: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Women asserts that all development initiatives including the Second Trunk Road (STR) will help to narrow the disparity between rural and urban areas.

Its chief Datuk Seri Doris Brodie emphasised road infrastructure is as crucial as the provision of clean water, electricity, telecommunication and rural health services, especially the STR, which not only will shorten traveling time between Kuching and Sibu but also open up new areas for development.

“In my view, all development including the STR is important especially those that are focused on narrowing the (development) gaps between rural and urban areas. Therefore for Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) to say that only clean water, electricity, telephone and Internet access, proper road access and rural health are important is not correct.

“STR when completed will link Kuching to Sibu with the Pan Borneo Highway through Selangau, Sri Aman (Simanggang) and Betong for better connectivity. Besides shortening the traveling distance between Kuching and Sibu, improving safety and efficiency, it also opens up new areas for development and capitalises on the Pan Borneo and coastal road network to increase mobility in Sarawak.

“Take for example, while cutting (travel) time and distance from Kuching-Sri Aman is not the main focus under the STR, the distance is still shorter via STR (from 185km to 121km) which is approximately 1.15 hours (to drive) as compared to 3 hours currently,” Doris asserted in a press statement today.

Doris who is also a political secretary to the Chief Minister noted that the entire Peninsular Malaysia is served by the North-South Highway, East-West Highway and East Coast Rail Link that allow sub-road connectivity to smaller towns and districts. She added that these networks of roads open up and bring vibrancy to all areas of West Malaysia, as well as generate economic activity for local dwellers.

She opined that something similiar should be done for Sarawakians so they can also progress and have their livelihoods improved, especially those in rural areas.

“Therefore, the development of roads like STR, Pan Borneo Highway and the coastal road is equally as important as providing other amenities especially in rural areas, (issues) which are being seriously and progressively addressed by Sarawak GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government.

“In fact, no well intended and thoroughly researched development projects are bad, only ill-intentioned politicians make it sounds bad,” said Doris.

Being well aware of and understanding the basic needs of Sarawakians at large, she added, the Sarawak government tabled its 2020 Budget last November in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly and allocated RM6.597 billion (a sum higher than in previous years) for this purpose, of which 63 per cent (RM4.141 billion) had been provided for the development of rural areas which includes provisions of basic amenities such as road access, rural water and electricity supplies as well as other people-centric projects.

Doris added these initiatives as tabled by the Chief Minister will open-up new and larger areas, unlock the state’s vast economic potential and create the critical mass required for greater private sector participation, thus generating more jobs and business opportunities for Sarawakians.

“Therefore, for those who argued that STR is not needed or not important, it reflects their lack of responsibility and shallow understanding of the benefits of these development (initatives) for Sarawakians especially those of rural areas whether for immediate or in future.”

“Don’t underestimate the wisdom of Sarawakians. Politics of sentiments don’t work anymore. The rakyat can see, feel and judge,” Doris added. — DayakDaily