Pending rep challenges CM to justify buying cattle station in Australia

Yong holding a printout of photos showing Abang Johari’s recent visit to the cattle station in Australia.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, March 28: The state government has been urged to be transparent with the deal by Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) to acquire a cattle breeding station at Carmor Plains in Darwin, Australia.

Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong today requested the state to reveal the investment cost and economic potential of acquiring the 41,500-hectare cattle station in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT).

The Democratic Action Party (DAP) lawmaker also asked whether the state government or SEDC had carried out an impact study on the project, considering that it involved taxpayers’ money.

“Currently, there are no details on this project until we learned of the Chief Minister’s visit to Australia through the media. Therefore, I would like him to explain why the state needs to invest in NT, Australia, to purchase the cattle station and how much is the investment cost.

“What economic, financial benefits will this investment bring to Sarawak and the people?” she said at a press conference here today.

Yong was commenting on Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s recent visit to Darwin, where he revealed that SEDC was in the midst of acquiring the cattle station.

A statement from the Chief Minister’s Office on March 22 described the Carmor Plains cattle station as privately owned and covers 100,000 acres.

There are about 2,500 buffaloes in the station, which would be used as a fattening centre for cattle that are transported out of SEDC-owned Rosewood cattle station for export. It would also serve as a breeding station for buffaloes that will be sent to Limbang for domestication.

Yong wondered why Sarawak wanted to invest in cattle farming overseas instead of locally. She reasoned that the state had suitable land and weather condition to breed cattle.

“It is economically viable for the state government to invest locally. We don’t want the investment to become a white elephant or benefiting only certain parties. We don’t want the state to simply spend money under the guise of investment but it doesn’t benefit the people in the end,” she said.

Yong gave a reminder of the need for the state to be transparent in its investments, citing the RM31 million musical fountain located in front of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly complex that she described as being overpriced.

She also questioned SEDC’s track record in managing its properties. Certain premises (buildings) were not properly maintained and not vibrant, she claimed. — DayakDaily