Resist sweet promises that turn into “two spoonsful of ashes”, says Chief Minister

Abang Johari speaking at the Batang Lupar Bridge earth-breaking ceremony this morning (March 23, 2021).

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By Lian Cheng and Chris Bishop

SEBUYAU, March 23: Let the cancellation of the Batang Lupar Bridge be a lesson for Sarawakians.

Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg gave this reminder when officiating at the earth-breaking ceremony for the long-awaited for bridge this morning.

He was referring to the decision by the former Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to cancel all bridge projects including the Batang Lupar Bridge project before the state government decided to take up the projects.

“”Let it be a lesson. Don’t listen to nice stories, sweet, sweet words because the sweet words may turn sour. If they are just sour, it is okay, but they may even turn salty.

“Before the change of government, there were many sweet promises to Sarawakians. One of them was that allocations to Sarawak will increase. Then there was also the promise of oil and gas royalty to be increased to 20 per cent (and) 50 per cent tax collected from Sarawakians to be returned to Sarawak.

“There was also a promise that the environment for development will be enhanced and all these promises were even made in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly sitting.

“(However), let us just take those words with a pinch of salt as when the government changed, all promises became just ‘two spoonsful of ashes’,” said Abang Johari during the earth-breaking ceremony.

He reiterated that before the change of government, former Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem (who is fondly known by Sarawakians as Tok Nan) and former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had both agreed to equally share the cost of building the Batang Lupar Bridge .

After Tok Nan passed away, which was followed by PH coming into power, the PH government cancelled all the major bridge projects in Sarawak including the Rambungan Bridge, Igan Bridge and Batang Lupar Bridge projects.

Abang Johari who is also the Satok assemblyman stressed that since it is the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government’s vision to develop rural and interior areas and to turn Sarawak into a developed state by 2030, the GPS government has to undertake all these projects cancelled by the PH government during the latter’s 22 months in power.

To be a developed state by 2030, he said, the prerequisite is infrastructure development for water supply, electricity supply, and road connectivity as the foundation for the vision to take off like a plane taking off into the sky.

“The Batang Lupar Bridge Project was cancelled. Let it be. We will take it up there, including other bridge projects. Of course there will be problems as the costs of building are high and it takes five to six years to build,” said Abang Johari.

He noted Sarawak is able to undertake ambitious infrastructure projects because it generates more income through the implementation of the Oil Mining Ordnance and imposition of State Sales Tax, even though there were some quarters claiming that Sarawak will become bankrupt within three years.

“Be careful. Nearer election, they will be coming here again and making sweet promises. But (the fact is) not only is Sarawak not bankrupt, its income has increased much more,” stressed Abang Johari. — DayakDaily