By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Jan 30: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing believes that the most pathetic aspect of the whole 2019 World Para Swimming Championships hosting episode is that Sarawak’s opinion was never taken into consideration.
To Masing, it is nothing but sheer arrogance on the part of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Sarawak’s opinion wasn’t even sought when he decided to ban Israeli athletes’ participation. It’s sheer arrogance,” Masing told DayakDaily today.
He questioned Dr Mahathir’s rationale targeting only Israel and not Myanmar.
If Dr Mahathir is a person who upholds such a high standard of justice and humanity, the latter should also object to the participation of the Burmese too, he opined.
“Myanmar is just next door. I am sure Tun Mahathir knows the history of injustice and inhumane treatment by the Myanmar government towards the Rohingya Muslims.
“Why doesn’t Dr Mahathir bar Myanmar from participating in the games? The government terrorises the Rohingyas, who are Muslims. He has a selective dislike for nations,” said Masing.
Masing, who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, said the whole issue had diverted from the true essence of the Olympic Games, which is to unite the people.
“The fundamentals of the Olympic Games, when it started 5,000 years ago, was to unite, not to divide, the warring factions in Greece. Thus, a truce was called during the whole duration of the games.
“But that is too far in history for Dr Mahathir to recall,” said Masing.
He said due to Dr Mahathir’s personal prejudices, Sarawak had lost big time in tourism publicity, including possible revenue earned.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) on Sunday (Jan 27) stripped Malaysia of the right to host the 2019 World Para Swimming Championships, which was to be held in Kuching from July 29 to Aug 4.
In a media statement, IPC said the decision was made after the Malaysian Home Ministry “failed to provide the necessary guarantees that Israeli para swimmers could participate, free from discrimination, and safely in the championship”.
IPC made the public statement following Dr Mahathir’s open statement that Malaysia would ban the entry of Israeli athletes.
In comparing Dr Mahathir with former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Masing said he was grateful for what Najib had done for Sarawak.
“No matter what PH said of Najib, I will always be grateful to him for what he had done.”
Masing listed three of Najib’s contributions: initiating and constructing the Pan Borneo Highway by giving an allocation of RM17 billion, which is a game changer for Sarawak development; allocating funds for the building of the Sibu-Kapit Road, where Kapit is no longer “an island in Pulau Borneo”; and giving allocations for the construction of the Batang Baleh bridge, which unites the Baleh area as Baleh River used to split Baleh into half.
The Batang Baleh bridge, according to Masing, also enables Kapit town to be linked to Baleh HEP, which is 116km upstream. — DayakDaily