Masing repeats call to use part of state reserves for rural development

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

KUCHING, July 29: “Why keep plenty of water when our people are dying of thirst?” asked Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.

Masing said this in a statement today to reiterate his rationale for recently calling on the Sarawak government to liquidate part of its reserves to upgrade basic infrastructure in rural areas.

Masing added that the reserves must be used in areas that most required it. He pointed out that state ministers were now asking for state funds to build dilapidated schools, water supply, electricity, roads and utilities in the rural areas.

He said when he first suggested for part of these reserves to be used for these purposes, fellow ministers came after him “like 10 tons of bricks”.

“Certain newspapers may have manipulated what I said for reasons best known to themselves but the least my colleagues could do was to seek clarifications from me (first),” said Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation.

When the whole episode erupted, he noted that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg reserved his comments and did not make any hasty statement.

“I appreciated the CM’s demeanour during this controversy. He remained calm and detached, for he knew it is not wise for his cabinet colleagues to differ in public,” he said.

Recently, Masing, who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, was quoted by certain newspapers as calling on the state government to “use up” all the RM31 billion reserve.

As a result, Masing was condemned for making the statement by both Pakatan Harapan and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) leaders. — DayakDaily