Premier leaves it to private sector to decide whether to build tallest flagpole

Abang Johari (seated, centre) addressing a press conference at DUN Complex today (Feb 2, 2023). Also seen seated from left are Uggah and Dr Sim while standing from left are Len Talif and Saidol.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Feb 2: The Sarawak government will leave it to the private sector to decide whether or not to build the proposed tallest 99-metre flagpole in the country, that is estimated to cost RM30 million amidst some dissenting views from the public.

Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg clarified again today that the Sarawak government has only identified a site for the proposed project that is to be implemented by a company from the private sector.

“The flagpole is (a) private sector (project). We just identified a site for them,” he said at a press conference at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex here today.

When further asked if the project will continue to be implemented despite some dissenting views from the public, Abang Johari replied: “It is the private sector’s proposition. They want to contribute.”

He hopes that the flagpole standing at 99 metre will become an inspiration for all Sarawakians.

The flagpole in question has been proposed to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Sarawak as an entity to the formation of Malaysia as well as to mark Sarawak’s achievements in regaining its rights and privileges under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), including the elevation of the head of the State’s administration from Chief Minister to Premier.

Meanwhile, the project came to light last week following a news report by a local daily which raised a few eyebrows, including from Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii who questioned the significance of the flagpole and the cost to build it, while Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan was of the view that the structure will be a reminder of the mistake of Sarawak joining the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia.

However, Minister of Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah emphasised that it was a ‘non-issue’ and that the government will not plan for infrastructure without the proper consideration.

Similar to the case of the musical fountain where there were quarters making noise about the issue, he believes that the flagpole could be a new landmark for tourism.

Habitat for Indigenous and Urban Programme (Hidup) chairman George Young Si Record Junior also agreed with Abdul Karim, saying that there was nothing wrong with Sarawak having the tallest flagpole if it can serve as an iconic monument.

Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Dato Sri Tiong King Sing was also supportive of the project as it will contribute to the tourism sector.

Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Deputy Minister for Urban Development and Natural Resources Datuk Len Talif Salleh and Deputy Minister in Sarawak Premier’s Department (Corporate Affairs and Ukas) Datuk Abdullah Saidol were among those present. — DayakDaily