Masing did not say “empty the coffers”, says Salang

Salang (seated centre) speaking during the press conference, surrounded by PRS leaders.

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KUCHING, June 20: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Supreme Council today maintained that its president, Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, did not say “empty” the state reserves in his speech at the PRS Gawai Dayak Nyiling Tikai dinner here on Sunday.

Representing the supreme council, PRS secretary-general Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum told a press conference here that among other things, Masing mentioned the need to provide more infrastructure, social amenities and utilities in the state, particularly in the rural areas.

Salang emphasised that what Masing was trying to say was “it is an irony … we have huge reserves of RM31 billion in our coffers yet we are hearing the cries from our people. It does not matter whether the cries are from the Chinese, the Dayaks, the Malays or the Melanaus, the cries are there.

“Whether this is a fact, or fake, I think it is a fact that there are cries for roads not built, not tarred, and not surfaced on the periphery of the town areas.

“We also hear people crying about not having enough treated water, they don’t have electricity and they don’t have telecommunication, let alone Internet coverage.”

Salang said Masing’s view was that if all it took to answer the cries of the communities was to use the reserves, then it should be done.

He reiterated that Masing never said “empty the coffers”.

“No. He (Masing) did not say empty the coffers, but (rather) spend some of the money to provide those services,” said Salang.

Salang also pointed out that it would be ridiculous to think that the government could just spend RM31 billion without proper procedures.

“First, we may not have the cash of RM31 billion (as) some of the RM31 billions are in the form of assets, which we cannot spend.”

He said for the reserves to be spent, it must be properly budgeted as development expenditure and be approved by the State Legislative Assembly. — DayakDaily