I didn’t say we should squander the state’s reserves — Masing

Tan Sri Dr James Masing

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KUCHING, June 19: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has clarified that he was misquoted by a local newspaper which reported that he suggested using all the state’s reserve of RM31 billion to before the next state election.

When interviewed via telephone, Masing said he did not suggest the state government squander its reserves just to prevent the huge state reserves from falling into the hands of the state opposition if it should defeat Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) at the next state election.

“I suggested that some of Sarawak’s reserves should be used on urgent but largely unattended to infrastructural and social development needs of the rural communities in Sarawak, before the next state election. Because should they become the (next) government, they will use the reserves for development, and the rural communities will automatically perceive them as the one that can bring better development than the present state government.”

Masing also expressed his disappointment that some quarters appeared opposed to the state government using its reserves to bring development to the rural areas.

“Instead of keeping the money in the bank, let’s use some part of that for rural development which in turn can bring even more growth to our economy,” he said.

The local daily in a front page article today had reported Masing as saying that the money should be spent by the Sarawak government before the next election as otherwise it would be used by the new government if GPS loses power. As a result, the Deputy Chief Minister has come under severe criticism from the public and also state opposition leaders for these remarks he allegedly made.

However, based on Masing’s text of speech which was sighted by DayakDaily, he had actually suggested that Sarawak with a reserve of more than RM30 billion must utilise some of it to build proper infrastructure like roads, water supply and electricity supply in rural areas in the next three years.

“We have now more than RM30 billion of reserves. If we don’t use some of this reserve for developing Sarawak and come 2021 we lose the 12th state election (PRN12), the next government will use the reserve to make themselves look good using the money that we have accumulated.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have three years to develop Sarawak properly by using some of the money we have accumulated to the satisfaction of Sarawakians so that come PRN12, in 2021, voters in Sarawak will vote us to administered this state for another five years,” he said at a function organised at a local restaurant here on Sunday night.

He pointed out that there was nothing wrong using the funds which it had accumulated through prudent management to build infrastructure for rural people as the “money will be used in the most proper manner”.

Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation said he was disappointed that there were people who opposed the government to bring development to the rural population. — DayakDaily