More bickering in DUN as Dr Sim and Soon Koh lock horns over infrastructure projects, State funds

A collage photo of Dr Sim (left) gesturing when interrupted in Chamber, and Wong addressing a press conference today (May 25).

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 25: Sarawak would probably have completed all of its infrastructure projects by now and may even be halfway to a trillion US dollar sovereign fund like Norway had Bawang Assan member Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh introduced the five per cent State Sales Tax (SST) on petroleum products and adopted alternative funding when he was the Second Finance Minister for 15 years.

Minister for Public Health, Housing and Local Government Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian said this to Wong after giving him assurance and clarification that the Sarawak government has plans to establish a Sarawak Cancer Centre in Samarahan.

“The Sarawak government is in a strong financial position as stated by the Premier of Sarawak (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg) on Oct 30, 2021 as reported in print media, whereby the Sarawak government is capable of dishing out RM1 billion per month for development purposes,” he said when delivering his winding-up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today.

On the proposed Sarawak Cancer Centre, Dr Sim explained that currently, there are three options for the Federal government to consider.

“Option 1 is a 390-bed centre but equipped for 300 beds at a cost of RM860 million.

“Option 2 is a 390-bed centre fully equipped at RM966 million and Option 3 is a 474-bed cancer hospital at a cost of RM1.12 billion,” he said, adding that the cost estimate covers not only the construction of the building but also takes into account other complementing state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.

Dr Sim, who is also Deputy Premier, has refused to take any questions from the Opposition bench including Wong who had attempted to seek further clarification on the cancer centre.

At a press conference at the end of DUN Sitting later, Wong advised Dr Sim not to make too many “trigger happy” and casual statements or remarks, else he could become a laughing stock.

“Dr Sim has this habit of making trigger happy remarks all the time, everywhere and on most occasions, which are featured strongly in all the newspapers,” he said.

On the cancer centre, Wong said he had wanted to further ask Dr Sim whether the Federal Ministry of Health has agreed to the construction of this cancer centre by the Sarawak government itself and if the Federal government would reimburse the amount to the State government.

“Has the Federal government agreed in writing, otherwise it will be like SIMC (Sarawak International Medical Centre) which has now become Heart Centre?” he questioned.

Referring to Dr Sim’s remarks boasting that Sarawak is now an independent State and would become the most prosperous State in Malaysia with revenue increased to RM10 billion to the extent that the government can have RM1 billion a month for development purposes, Wong asked if Dr Sim knows how budgeting is done.

“As if there are no other expenses. And what was he talking about when saying most projects in Sarawak would have been completed by now, had I as the Minister of Finance for 15 years, know how to collect more revenue,” Wong questioned.

Wong countered saying: “It is the State government, the Cabinet and First Finance Minister who are always (in charge)… the Chief Minister himself… in other words he should blame the Chief Minister (Premier Sarawak) isn’t it. I am only Finance Minister 2, yes I carry out day-to-day administration of financial affairs but when it comes to major policy, it is the State Cabinet that has to decide on, particularly issues on increasing revenue collection.”

Once again, he advised Dr Sim to be very careful with his remarks as he held the position of Deputy Premier 3 and it is unbecoming of him as a person holding such high office to make such trigger happy remarks all the time, he told the press. — DayakDaily