Five critically dilapidated schools to be repaired possibly starting August

Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong

By Lian Cheng and Karen Bong

KUCHING, July 26: Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin has disclosed that projects to repair dilapidated schools in Sarawak will begin with five schools next month.

Manyin, who is Tebedu Assemblyman, revealed that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had written to the Ministry of Finance of intention to pay and disburse the RM350 million at any time.

“It has nothing to do with loan schedule payment. Almost all issues have been resolved following a meeting with Ministry of Finance (MoF) and Ministry of Education (MoE) last week,” he told reporters when met after closing the Sarawak Zone Skill and Innovation Competition at Kuching Vocational College, Jalan Batu Lintang here today.

“They (federal) wanted the repairs to start with five schools in August if possible. Last Wednesday, our officers have met with JKR (Public Works Department),” he added.

He pointed out that these five schools to be identified are among the 415 schools categorised as criticaly dilapidated which required urgent attention. There are 1,020 dilapidated schools in Sarawak.

“Once everything settle, we will start everything but we need to coordinate with JKR Sarawak including open tender process handled by Federal Tender Board Sarawak,” he explained.

“As long as we have already written (to MoF), we are definitely optimistic. The things will go on, so don’t argue (bicker) anymore on newspaper (media),” he said.

Manyin also refuted statement by Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen who opined that the Sarawak government was putting all the blame on the federal government.

“We never blame anybody. The Sarawak government trusts the federal government, whether Barisan for the past 50 years or Pakatan now, because education is under the federal list. It should be the sole responsibility of the federal government to take care of education,” he said.

“After Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) set up the State Education Ministry in 2017, we discovered that there were many schools in dilapidated condition. In meeting with previous government, they agreed for RM1 billion to be disbursed in 2018 and 2019 but this was not honoured by Pakatan Harapan,” he added.

He reminded Chong to go back on his words saying that Sarawak will not need to beg once the Pakatan Harapan won the general election and pledged to return 50 per cent of taxes collected from Sarawak, 20 per cent oil royalty and autonomy for education and health.

“So what is it now? He (Chong) reneged on its promises. So don’t say unneccessary things because we are not blaming anybody. He should keep all his promises,” he pointed out.

Recently, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng highlighted that Sarawak government must pay the RM350 million first before the amount can be allocated to the state for school repairs.

Lim’s statement drew flaks from Sarawakian politicians and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with some described his statement as “distasteful” as the statement was made on Sarawak Day of July 22. — DayakDaily