Sarawak Premier renews offer to loan Putrajaya RM1 bln to build cancer centre in State

Abang Johari (fourth left) presses the panel while others look on at the Sarawak Heart Centre's 20th Anniversary Dinner on Jan 16, 2023. Photo credit: Sarawak Information Department (JaPen Sarawak)

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Jan 16: Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg has again offered a loan of up to RM1 billion to the federal government to build a cancer centre in Sarawak.

He said there is a rising trend of cancer patients in the whole of Borneo, and the situation is worsened by the fact that it is very costly to refer these patients for cancer treatment outside the region, such as Kuala Lumpur.


Following this, he stressed that Sarawak must have a special cancer unit so that the rural people, as well as those from Sabah and Indonesia’s Kalimantan, can seek medical treatment to avoid expensive airfare.

“I have suggested to the federal government for us to have a cancer centre here (in Sarawak). I know it is very costly because it may cost about RM800 million to RM1 billion.

“That is where the Sarawak government can collaborate with the federal government where we can (give an) advance (loan) to you to build this centre with Sarawak’s allocation. The rest (such as) doctors and equipment will be provided by the Ministry of Health (MOH).

“Maybe the Sarawak government can afford it because we have a certain financial model to set up this centre, and there is a way to recover the cost,” he said when officiating at the Sarawak Heart Centre’s 20th Anniversary Dinner broadcast live by Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) on Facebook earlier tonight.

Last year, the Sarawak government offered the same deal to the previous federal government. However, the proposal could not get the previous federal Cabinet’s approval following the dissolution of Parliament in October.

Abang Johari further hoped to deliberate the renewed proposal and its implementation with the federal government soon.

“Actually, I have done my homework. If you (the federal government) agree, we can start it (construction) by the end of the year.

“In terms of the financial regime and how to finance it, at the end of the day, it’s the decision of the federal government, but we can collaborate for the sake of our people, those from Sabah and Sarawak and later on maybe (include) our friends in Kalimantan and within Asean cooperation in terms of healthcare.

“I think we have to think beyond that, and then Malaysia can at least contribute to the healthcare of this region,” he added.

At the same time, Abang Johari has plans to send a delegation led by Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian for a working visit to Samsung Biologics company in Seoul, South Korea.

According to him, the company is carrying out cancer research, particularly on manufacturing of drugs where, if successful, he said: “the drug would go directly to the cancer cell without affecting other cells”.

Amongst those present were the Premier’s wife, Puan Sri Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang; Dr Sim and wife, Datin Sri Enn Ong; Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa; Sarawak Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki and wife Datin Amar Baduyah Bujang; and Ministry of Health (MOH) director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. — DayakDaily