Masing laments mistreatment of Sarawak, lack of road infrastructure

Masing presenting a RM10,000 grant to Pewarta treasurer Nancy Nais as Pewarta president Peter Sibon looks on.

KUCHING, July 16: Sarawak has been ignored for far too long with its infrastructure – especially road development – left far behind compared to other parts of the country, especially Peninsular Malaysia.

In pointing this out, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said Sarawakians should thank Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari for his ability to generate extra income from the imposition the 5 per cent State Sales Tax on oil and petroleum produced in Sarawak.

“It should have been done long time ago. Luckily we have (Chief Minister Datuk Patiggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg), who is not lawyer but he looked at the federal constitution and found the loophole.

“Just imagine when the price of oil was good and the RM2-RM3 billion per year we (could have gained) from SST. So you just imagine, for the last 10-20 years if we had that amount how much it would be and how much development we could have carried out,” Masing told DayakDaily at his office here today.

Masing who is also the Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development said that Petronas should have been honest with Sarawak, as most of its oil and gas has been exploited since 1974.

“We have been ignored for far too long. This is where Petronas should have been honest to us. They know they owe us but they keep it to themselves since 1974.

“I’m assured lawyers in Petronas realised that they owe us but they kept quiet. And not until we found out ‘You owe us’ and still they refused to pay and took us to court.

“To me its most embarrassing for a national oil corporation. And good riddance, the CEO resigned just because he disagreed. We cannot have a CEO of a national corporation who does not agree with the law of the land. That cannot be tolerated,” he said, in reference to the recent resignation of Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin as Petronas’ chief executive officer over his alleged disagreement for Petronas to pay Sarawak the 5 per cent State Sales Tax.

Masing, who is also PRS president reiterated that the only way Sarawak could achieve developed status was to build more roads in the rural areas.

“To me, we cannot develop Sarawak unless we have the accessibility. Accessibility is the number one factor to propel any country to develop.

“Look at China. When I went there Beijing in 1990’s and there were hundreds of bicycles around everywhere. Then 10 years later I came back there were no more bicycles but only cars and motorcycles. What made that difference, it is the accessibility.

“So the Chinese government put most of their money into infrastructure and that created mobility and access into areas which otherwise inaccessible. So the farmers and so on can develop their land,” he related.

He also thanked Abang Johari for being supportive of his ministry to build more roads to the rural areas.

“So far my request for infrastructure development has not been ignored. He has been supportive 100 per cent. The only thing concerned us is where do we get the fund. Now that he has the means, I’m now in a better position to request for more,” he said.

The Baleh lawmaker express hope that soon, more roads to the rural areas such as Kapit could be implemented.

“But then again construction road takes time, even making babies take nine months. So how can you expect we build the road like a finger snap.

“I understand and sympathise with them (rural people) because they have been ignored for a very long time. but they must understand that building roads takes time and money. But by and by, we are moving that way, I think,” he added.

Meanwhile, at the function, Masing presented his government grant of RM10,000 to the Pertubuhan Wartawan Bebas Kuching (Pewarta) to carry out its annual activities.—DayakDaily