PRS takes Soon Koh to task for Baleh, Tunoh remarks

Masing (left) and Soon Koh.

KUCHING, Oct 1: Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has taken Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh to task over the latter’s disparaging comments on the infrastructure development in Baleh and Tunoh.

Wong was reported by two local Chinese dailies to have said that infrastructure, particularly roads in Baleh, are in deplorable condition even though Tan Sri James Jemut Masing is the Minister for Infrastructure as well as the assemblyman for Baleh.

Wong also alleged that Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak president, had failed to develop the infrastructure within the Baleh constituency.

According to the press statement issued by PRS, nearly RM3 billion had been allocated for infrastructure development in Baleh, comprising the following :

1. 73 km Ng Mujong Road (access road to the proposed Baleh Dam) at the cost of RM1.2 billion is under construction.

2. Rh Nyamok/Ng Serau/Ng Gaat/SMK Baleh/Sg Kain road at the cost of RM380 million (2 phases) will begin construction toward the end of 2020.

3. Upgrading of 12 km existing logging road including 3 km access road to Tunoh at the cost of RM58.8 million.

4. Batang Baleh bridge, Sg Mujong bridge and Sg Banyau bridge have been completed at the cost of RM123 million. Meanwhile the RM3.9 million Sg Merirai bridge is under construction.

Ng Mujong Bridge.

In addition, the road to Tunoh (Ng Mujong/Ng Tiau/Tunoh) at the estimated cost of RM550 million has been approved for implementation under the 12th Malaysian Plan.

Another road, the Ng Sepanggil-Tunoh road, estimated to cost RM600 million, has been approved by the Barisan Nasional government but implementation was put on hold by the Pakatan Harapan government.  The Sarawak government is awaiting funding approval from the federal government to implement the project.

The proposed road from Ng Sepanggil to Tunoh will pass through Merirai and Tellai.

“The facts speak for themselves. Tan Sri James Jemut Masing as the Baleh assemblyman has succeeded in bringing billions ringgit worth of infrastructure development to Baleh, which is also a testimony to the earnest efforts of the GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) government in developing rural areas,” the statement said.

PRS said Wong had revealed his real motives for what they called a “personal attack” on Masing, as he talked of his personal achievements in building roads to all longhouses in Bawang Assan while denigrating Masing’s achievements in Baleh.

“He is portraying himself as the better leader over his opponent.”

In the statement, PRS argued that if Wong had indeed succeeded in building roads to all longhouses within Bawang Assan, he did only what was expected of him as he was the Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister for eight years from 1996 to 2004.

Ng Mujong Road leading to Baleh Dam.

“He (Soon Koh) took over from the late Tan Sri Dr Wong Soon Kai who was the Minister for Infrastructure and Transportation for 15 years. However what is surprising is that he failed to develop any rural road within Bawang Assan during his tenure as the Minister for Infrastructure and Transportation.

“Rather, what is an undeniable fact is that Tan Sri James Jemut Masing has been the Minister for Infrastructure and Port Development for only four years and it is only during Tan Sri James Jemut Masing’s tenure that the Sg Bidut/Kpg Tutus/Kpg Sebedil/Kpg Bungan road is approved. The said road, within the Bawang Assan constituency, is currently under construction.”

On Wong’s scepticism of the Sarawak government’s decision to build an airport at Tunoh since it is underdeveloped, PRS said it was part of a long-term policy plan for the area as stated by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg on April 25, 2019, at the launch of the 17th annual general meeting of Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching.

Abang Johari said once roads were built to complement the Baleh and Bakun dams, the land would eventually be opened for commercial downstream agriculture activities which will necessitate the need for greater connectivity.

“The Dayaks can open up and develop their land for commercial agriculture. You know fresh agriculture produce cannot last long; they must be sent to the market as soon as possible. Having the airport will help farmers get their produce immediately to the market and generate more income,” the chief minister was quoted as saying at the event.

At the time, he had also acknowledged skeptics to his plan but stated the need for Bario to have a longer airstrip for bigger planes to land.

PRS stated that in questioning the Sarawak government’s decision to build the airport at Tunoh, Wong had lent further credence to the view that he opposed development in the rural areas.

“For someone who relies on rural constituents for support, Wong has shown himself to be self-contradictory.”  —DayakDaily

An artist’s impression of the RM173.5 million Bukit Mabong Airport.