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BELAGA, April 5: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took a swipe at Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for allegedly calling Sarawakians lazy, greedy and slow which had cause their state to be slow to progress compared to others in the country.
Speaking during the official handing over of the Bakun Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) to the Sarawak government at the operators’ village here this afternoon, Najib said the cause of Sarawak’s slow progress was Dr Mahathir’s lack of commitment to the state during his 22 years as the Prime Minister.
“His philosophy was just to strengthen the central leadership and to one man only — him as Prime Minister then.
“Now he’s 93-years-old, he is saying different things. With his track record, and after saying Sarawakians are lazy, greedy and slow, would you still trust him?” he said.
Najib further said that since he himself became the Prime Minister since 2009, he has visited Sarawak more than 60 times and gone to more than 160 locations, and has not neglected the state’s needs.
Now, Sarawak is being well developed with many development projects either completed or being carried out, not to mention the state government’s aspiration to become a digital economy, he continued.
“This proves that what he (Dr Mahathir) said is not to be trusted. Let’s prove him wrong by rejecting him and his candidates in the coming General Election (GE14), and manage the state’s development well. That is your challenge now — to prove that old man wrong,” said Najib.
He said the handing-over ceremony today was the opposite of the initial plan for the HEP during Dr Mahathir’s time to export the electricity to the Peninsula.
Najib said because the state is fast developing, its electricity demand also increases over the years.
“In 2009, Sarawak’s energy requirement was only at 1,000 MW. Now it is at 3,500 MW. All the power from Bakun HEP can be fully utilised by Sarawak. There is no need to export your electricity.
“Also because it is renewable energy, Sarawak’s electricity tariff is the lowest in the country and among the lowest in the South East Asia region, which could attract more heavy industries and investors to come to Sarawak.
“Sarawak’s electricity cost is 28.2 sen per kilowatt hour (kw/h) compared to the Peninsula at 39.5sen kw/h and 34.5 sen kw/h in Sabah,” he said.
Najib added that now Sarawak has control over all four of its major HEPs and dams which also include Batang Ai, Murum and to-be-completed Baleh, the state could now sync its renewable energy development as well as downstream development around the HEP.
Among the development around the HEP the state has potential to develop was tourism and aquaculture, he added.
Another advantage from the handing-over of Bakun HEP from Putrajaya to the Sarawak government was that economically it was a win-win situation, said Najib.
“We (federal) could monetize our asset for RM2.5 billion, and the state got all the rights over Bakun HEP. It is a win-win situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said that when Dr Mahathir was the Prime Minister, he had tried to take over the state’s energy provider then Sarawak Electricity Supply Company (Sesco) and the Bakun HEP to provide electricity to the Peninsula.
“We (state government) under the leadership of our Chief Minister then Tun (Pehin Sri Abdul) Taib Mahmud, managed to defend it and kept it away from him.
“So if Tun M promises (now) to return back Sarawak’s rights, he is lying because from his track record, his philosophy is to give power only to one man — himself.
“I’m not trying to ingratiate myself to Najib becaues it is a fact that Najib has been giving us plenty of development projects. Even for our goal to become a digital economy, he is willing to back us up and even contribute RM1 billion to repair and rebuild dilapidated schools in the state.
“Therefore this ceremony today marks his sincerity to Sarawak,” he said.
On another note, Najib also announced an allocation of RM76 million for the development of three acres of land for the relocated settlements affected by the Bakun HEP development, for agriculture development, as well as RM9 million for the construction of farm roads to the plot.
On March 8, 2017, it was announced that the state government had reached an agreement with the federal Ministry of Finance and the Federal Land Commissioner to acquire 100 per cent of equity shares of Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd — the owner and operator of Bakun Hydroelectric Plant through Sarawak Energy Berhad’s (SEB) wholly owned subsidiary SEB Power Sdn Bhd.
Prior to the acquisition, SEB’s wholly owned subsidiary Syarikat Sesco Berhad purchased all the output produced by Bakun HEP through a Power Purchase Agreement signed in 2011.
The acquisition of Bakun HEP represents part of SEB’s strategy to strengthen energy security and reliability for the state by developing its abundant, affordable, renewable and sustainable hydropower potential. 4
Other benefits include strong operational synergy between Bakun and Murum HEPs; enhancement of plant maintenance by development of highly capable and experienced hydropower station staff from SEB; and integrated lakeside tourism and socio-economic development.
Bakun HEP has an installed capacity of 2,400MW and it is the largest hydroelectric plant in Malaysia, and the second largest in the world in terms of height of the concrete facerock filled dam.
It is located in the Balui River of the Upper Rajang basin, 37km upstream from Belaga town.
It is the first HEP under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score).
The development of the dam involved the relocation of some 10,000 settlers living along the banks of the Balui River.
From 1998, communities were resettled from the affected villages and longhouses to a new township with modern amenities and improved access to education and health facilities. — DayakDaily