By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 5: Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang today questioned whether the federal government is taking care of Sarawak or vice versa when federal revenue for the state only comprises one per cent of the 2020 state budget.
In contrast, he claimed, the federal government has been taking RM250 million a day from Sarawak’s oil and gas to develop Peninsular Malaysia, with only five per cent coming back to Sarawak.
Lo was lashing out at Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen for ridiculing Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s State 2020 Budget and equating it to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“It is such an irony. First, Chong and his bosses took RM250 million a day from our land through oil and gas, next (they) give RM80 billion to the federal government, whose money is that? (It is) Sarawak’s money, Sabah’s money.
“And today, Petronas doesn’t even want to pay the five per cent sales tax. How can we achieve shared prosperity? Now, he can ridicule our Chief Minister and said the budget is ridiculous when it is a surplus budget,” he told a press conference in the media room of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex.
Abang Johari, Lo emphasised, has for the second year running tabled a surplus budget compared to the federal goverment’s negative budget.
“Out of the (over) RM9 billion budget, RM6 billion was for development expenditure with only RM3 billion for operating expenditure. (More than) Sixty per cent of it goes to development; what more can you ask?” he said.
Lo explained that state revenue for the RM9.81 billion budget comprised 30 per cent from tax revenue, 40 per cent from non-tax revenue, and one per cent from the federal government.
He thus slammed Chong for his comments when he likened the state budget to 1MDB.
“How can you equate the running of Sarawak to 1MDB which is a private company? It is ridiculous,” he said.
Lo opined Chong had no right to ridicule the state budget when out of the RM229 billion in the 2020 National Budget, only 18 per cent has been marked for development expenditure.
According to Lo, when Pakatan Harapan (PH) first took over, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had asked Petronas to give a special dividend of RM30 billion.
“What did Sarawak get from this special divided if we are equal partners? We should get 30 per cent of the RM30 billion, which is about RM10 billion.
“What did we get? Zero, ‘kosong’, ‘telur pun tidak ada’. And as of today, the federal government has already received RM80 billion from Petronas. Sarawak should have gotten RM24 billion,” he claimed.
Out of the total development expenditure under the 2020 National Budget, Lo alleged that Sabah and Sarawak combined only obtained 17.1 per cent.
“During election time, (PH bragged) that Sabah and Sarawak will get 30 per cent. The Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) stated that we should have 30 per cent but today (only) 17.1 per cent for Sarawak and Sabah combined,” he said.
“[Chong] should stick to his promises by giving back our 20 per cent oil royalty on top of five per cent, 50 per cent taxes which he and his boss promised, (and) respect MA63, as well as the autonomy on health and education,” he added.
The least Chong should do, Lo said, is to support the state budget and tell his federal bosses to give Sarawak what is due.
“Sometimes I wonder who is taking care of who. Malaya taking care of Sarawak or Sarawak taking care of Malaya with one per cent revenue from federal government? So you tell me why should Sarawak remain in Malaysia,” Lo stated. — DayakDaily