By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Dec 21: Sibu Hospital which serves close to a million people received only RM2.83 million for upgrading in the last five years, disclosed Senator Robert Lau.
“The new hospital is now overflowing and needs to be expanded as Sibu serves a huge rural population where there is a real lack of primary healthcare.
“For the last five years, under the 11th Malaysia Plan, a pitiful sum of RM2.83 million was spent on upgrading Sibu Hospital. This is just over RM500,000 each year for a hospital that serves close to a million people, (of whom) the majority are rural folks,” said Lau while debating National Budget 2021 at the Senate today.
He pointed out the Sibu Hospital is fortunate to have the local community’s support to bridge many of the funding gaps.
The two units of Seegene medical equipment for Covid-19 testing (better known as PCR testing machines) as well as the renovation to convert a pantry into a Covid-19 testing laboratory, were all sponsored by local companies at a cost of about RM500,000, added Lau.
“I hope this budget has something for Sibu Hospital. On the top (of the) wish list is for a dedicated Specialist Building with all the supporting facilities and personnel such as specialists and supporting staff.”
The estimated cost for this, he revealed, is RM340 million.
On the rights of Sarawak and Sabah, Lau reminded the federal government that when Sarawak and Sabah were persuaded to be part of the formation of Malaysia, there were two key promises made to the people of the two territories.
Firstly, it was the promise of faster and better development for them and secondly, it was the promise or assurance given to Sarawakians that there will be freedom of religion without an official religion.
“The leaders of Sarawak were brought to Malaya for a tour in 1962 to see the development here and were promised the same would happen if both (Sarawak and Sabah) joined in the new country’s formation.
“Almost 60 years later, we still do not even have a proper highway, many rural schools are in poor physical condition and healthcare is not reaching out to the suburban and rural population centres. I shall touch on the health care and education,” said Lau.
On education, apart from raising the issue of rundown schools in many parts of Sarawak, Lau said RM11.58 billion has been allocated for Higher Education Ministry.
Malaysia has 22 public universities and seven teaching hospitals, but there is only one public university in Sarawak, which is Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Lau pointed out.
“When will Sarawak and Sabah have teaching hospitals? When will Sarawak has more public universities?” he questioned. — DayakDaily