KUCHING, March 21: Senator Robert Lau has asked what actions have been taken by the Federal government to devolve powers to Sarawak and Sabah to further empower the regional governments to solve problems while eliminating bureaucracy that has hindered the economic development in the two Borneon regions.
In raising this, he pointed out that the economic development in Sarawak and Sabah which is far behind the Peninsular Malaysia can be considered as not fulfilling the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (M63) commitments, and this resulted in both regions having the highest percentage and cases of extreme poverty.
“Limitations due to bureaucracy, including matters related to licensing, permits and approval based in Putrajaya, and distance have caused delays and additional costs.
“These powers should be devolved to Sarawak and Sabah governments,” he said when debating the Royal Address in Parliament today.
While ten of billions of ringgit have been invested in building multi-storey highways, flyovers, ports, airports and flood mitigation projects in Peninsular Malaysia, Lau however pointed out that the roads in Borneo are still in a very sad condition.
“Pan Borneo Highway has been used as the main ‘poster boy’, being the largest infrastructure project in the history of the island of Borneo, for development in Sarawak and Sabah since 2016.
“Recently, I travelled from Miri to Bintulu by bus and the condition of the road that is under construction is not conducive to travel, especially from Miri to Niah. Even the local communities had to rely on this road as their main road. I even saw many people who wanted to board the bus but had to be turned away due to a lack of seats,” he said.
As such, Lau questioned why can’t the government offer train services between major cities in Sarawak and Sabah as good transportation is a basic requirement.
“Is the Federal government committed to funding the construction of a railway line to connect the west coast of Sarawak with the east coast of Sabah and finally to Nusantara?” he asked. — DayakDaily