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By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Feb 23: The Sarawak government should create a specific ministry to look after human resources development and provide a platform for all stakeholders to further develop the state’s labour force.
State Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) secretary Andrew Lo, said this in an ongoing debate with the state government on the need to strengthen labour force and employment opportunity.
“This reinforces the need to have a state minister, who would be responsible for human resources, as well as to have a platform for government, employers and workers to deliberate on human resources issues and find a solution to move the state forward,” he said in a statement.
Lo was responding to Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh, who challenged the former to ask high-tech industry players in Sarawak on the number of high-paying jobs they have provided.
Len Talif also challenged the MTUC Sarawak secretary to take a ride with him along the coastal road from Kuching to Lawas and see if Lo still claimed the project was a waste of money.
“With regard to his challenge for me to take a ride with him from Kuching to Lawas on the coastal highway, I wish to inform him that I have driven that road a few times from Rambungan-Sampadi to Lawas.
“Would Datu like to see the 16 immigration stamps on my passport?” he asked.
Lo lamented that when one missed the Triso ferry, even by a few minutes, one had to wait another hour for it to come back.
“I wonder the massive cost to build a bridge across the raging Batang Lupar.
“Along the whole stretch except maybe Asajaya to Sebuyau, Triso, Maludam and Pusa, all I see are kilometres after kilometres of oil palm plantation. They certainly don’t look like forests to me.
“I have been to almost all towns in Sarawak, except Song – one of the poorest district in Malaysia. I have been to quite a few longhouses and villages including hiking up to Bukit Sadok, the last stand of Rentap,” he said.
Lo pointed point out that MTUC never claimed the coastal highway project was a waste of money.
“We clearly state that it should not be prioritised over the Pan Sarawak trunk road (now Pan Borneo Highway project) that runs almost parallel with less 100 kilometres separating them.
On the 3.8 per cent unemployment rate, which Len Talif deemed as full employment according to World Bank standards, Lo said the figure did not address graduate unemployment and underemployment.
He asserted that employment should also lead to wages increase.
Lo said it was also imperative for the assistant minister to provide figures all of jobs created during the past 20 years across all industries and sectors.
“With regards to accusation that MTUC officials do not go to the ground and gather facts, please let it be known that our officials and workers are all from the ground – working and eking out a living all over Sarawak,” he added.
Meanwhile, when contacted, Len Talif declined to comment on MTUC’s latest statement. — DayakDaily