Of rabies and the Second Trunk Road

The Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) complex as seen from across the Sarawak River, Kuching. — DayakDaily.com file pic

Commentary

OF LATE, the people’s restlessness in general can be felt as there has been no concrete achievement by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government even after 100 days after taking over Putrajaya. This is because none of the 10 main promises in its manifesto have been fulfilled, except perhaps the abolishment of the much-despised Goods and Services Tax (GST). But expectations for zero-rated GST to result in lower prices of everyday goods and services have not been realised and with the Sales and Services Tax (SST) set to come into effect next month, these prices appear to be poised for another hike.

Whenever criticism is posed towards the PH federal government, its staunch supporters will be quick to defend it by highlighting that the former Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government has failed despite its 55 years in power. It is a valid argument of course, but don’t we all feel that we really have had enough of political rhetoric and instead, there is an urgent need to focus issues that matters most?

The scourge of rabies in Sarawak

After rabies claimed its 12th victim in Sarawak yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg today has blamed Putrajaya for not channeling enough funds to assist the state’s Veterinary Services Department to curb the spread of the virus-borne disease.


And with three more areas being affected by the deadly disease, time is now of the essence for Putrajaya to act and act fast to assist Sarawak to prevent more areas from being affected and more people from being infected.

At the same time, Sarawakians in general are still not taking the matter seriously as many pet owners have yet to vaccinate their dogs and in the worst case scenario, some known victims did not even seek treatment even after they had been bitten by rabid dogs.

This is the real and present dilemma faced by Sarawakians which must be addressed by both the PH federal government and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government. Let there be no more excuses to prevent any more loss of precious life.

While Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii revealed on August 14 that he managed to convince the federal government to allocate RM21 million after he tabled in Parliament an Emergency Motion under Standing Order 18 (1) Emergency Parliament Sitting, the funds seemingly have yet to reach the shores of Sarawak for the relevant authorities to carry out the necessary urgent works.

The Second Trunk Road

While the multi-billion ringgit Pan Borneo Highway project is under the purview of the federal government, other road projects in Sarawak are not. So both PH lawmakers and ministers from Sarawak and GPS government ministers and its elected representatives have to put aside their political differences and cooperate for the benefit of all Sarawakians.

Special officer to the Works Ministry and Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How has recently said he was not in favour of the Second Trunk Road which will connect Sri Aman to Sibu via Betong as it would cost some RM4 billion to build.

On the other hand, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and the state government are eager to construct the road to improve connectivity between Sri Aman, Betong and Sibu with the state’s own funds.

The logic is very simple and there is no need for See to interfere. In fact, See should be more than happy to recommend the project to his boss Baru Bian for extra funding and not try to scrap it altogether.

Lest he forgets, the people of Sri Aman have been crying for road connectivity from this neglected town and to be connected to Betong via a bridge across Batang Lupar since it has been bypassed all this while. Ask any shopkeeper, businessman and the ordinary folks at Sri Aman Town, they will say that the construction of the trunk road to Betong is long overdue.

Before he issued the statement, See should have gone to the ground and seen for himself how the rural people living in areas between Sri Aman and Betong have long been using river transport to get to the nearest towns.

So when there is a proposal to build such a vital infrastructure, See should not try to pour cold water over the project. He should not think as an urban YB but as a YB for all. After all he has been entrusted to assist Baru for the whole state and not just for the urban areas.

And since the 12th State Election is only due in three years’ time, by 2021, and furthermore we have just gone through a change in the federal Government, it is time for all to close ranks and develop Sarawak which is still far lagging in terms of infrastructure development such as roads, electricity and water.

Finally, we as Sarawakians earnestly hope that both the GPS state government and PH federal government will prioritize the needs of the people instead of laying their war pieces on the chessboard just to win in the coming state election. It’s really time to get things done and put politics aside because there are many people who are crying for help and assistance. — DayakDaily