Using ‘tongkat’ not always by choice, says Masing

Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

KUCHING, August 28: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing also said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s analogy of describing the financial assistance as “tongkat” was interesting.

“Tun Mahathir’s analogy that “tongkat” (walking stick) needs to be taken off from our people so that they can grow up and be independent is interesting.

“In principle, it’s a very good approach, but in reality it should not be assumed as such,” said Masing in a statement yesterday.

He opined that Dr Mahathir must understand that some people used “tongkat” not by choice but by necessity.

“Being poor is not by choice, but due to circumstances and other variables beyond their control. These people need to use “tongkat” to survive.

“Take Sarawak as an example. Sarawak is the one of the poorest states in Malaysia. Most BR1M recipients in Sarawak are from rural areas.

“They are disadvantaged in terms of connectivity, education and amenities. They are smallholder farmers at the mercy of agricultural diseases, pests and unpredictable weather,” said Masing who is Deputy Chief Minister.

Apart from Sarawak, Masing also said some states in Malaysia are still in need of federal “tongkat” to survive.

“And this is the exact reason why the New Economic Policy was mooted none other but by Tun Mahathir himself — to help the deserving poor, or the less advantaged.

“Please bear in mind that Malaya also uses the “tongkat” from Sarawak to be where it is today. Just imagine what would happen if the “tongkat” — the oil & gas of Sarawak — had not been used to build the Twin Towers, Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex, Universiti Teknologi Petronas and etc.

“So please Tun, have a heart and consider that some states or Malaysians are still in need of “tongkat” to survive. BR1M is a good example of such necessity,” said Masing.

He also said PRS supports the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s policy of more transparency and an investigation into 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) for any elements of corruption.

Masing was responding Dr Mahathir’s recent statement that the PH government will gradually reduce and finally abolish BRIM totally as the prime minister did not want people to rely on BR1M which he described as “tongkat”. — DayakDaily