Pending rep calls Lee “ungentlemanly” for refusing to take more questions on ART project

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, May 24: Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong has called Minister of Transport Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin “ungentlemanly” after he refused to give way to her to seek further clarification on issues related to the Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) project. 

Yong said Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) ministers should be more willing to take up questions as there are only six members on the Opposition bench. 

“I am disappointed that I was not given a chance to seek clarification on this. At first, he asked me to be patient and listen but when he finished, he did not address the questions I had raised. 

“He refused and became defensive. As a Minister of Transport, he should be welcoming of queries and issues so that the public can have a better understanding of the project,” she told the press in the media room after the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting was adjourned today. 

Yong pointed out that the House is for the people and a place where lawmakers can voice out and raise questions, but her right was denied.

“The Deputy Speaker (Dato Idris Buang) asked me to write in and that is also not proper and uncalled for. 

“There are three questions I wanted to put forth in respect of the ART project. While there are better details given on autonomous and automated systems today, which I am hearing for the first time, but there is some confusion because when asked about the tender from the Sarawak Metro website, it specifically stated automated systems. 

“So I want to check on that. There was a news report in which Premier (Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg) mentioned that Qatar called it an automated system while China uses ‘autonomous’ (to describe),” she said.

Yong also pointed out that another thing not mentioned until today is the projected cost of the ART project.

Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen, who was present, said that the cost for automated and autonomous systems will be very different with autonomous ones, which would be more costly as it involves more advanced technology. 

“Is the government paying the price for an autonomous product that is automated, that is the question. Everyone should be concerned about. Else Sarawakians would be shortchanged. The government must be forthcoming with the answers,” he added. 

Yong thus called on the Sarawak government to make public the reports which have been conducted for the ART project before the project is implemented fully. 

Earlier on, a minor uproar ensued in the Chamber when Yong attempted to seek clarifications on the ART project, even after Lee has provided a detailed explanation that Sarawak will be operating a Level 2 ART which is partial automation where a driver can take control of both speed and lane position to ensure smooth operation and safety. 

Lee also said that people should not be too carried away by debating over trivial matters as the GPS government will only implement major projects after a proper study has been carried out and the findings suggested that the project should proceed based on the financial viability and technical feasibility. 

Yong had to raise her voice as her mic was muted, but Lee who was seemingly agitated as he had to finish a long winding-up speech refused to give way, saying “The floor is mine and I have given all the clarifications. I have responded to all the queries you have raised. So please sit down and digest what I have said just now. You listen carefully and you will get all the answers there. Please take your seat.” — DayakDaily