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KUCHING, Oct 27: Sarawak will remain the “poor bumpkin cousin” in the Malaysian Family (‘Keluarga Malaysia’) if it never gets an equal share of the national budget.
This is the view of Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) president Lina Soo as she said Sarawak should be allocated a fair share of RM111 billion out of the RM333 billion allocated in Budget 2022 for the federal government to live up to the ‘equal partner’ sentiment in its Malaysian Family concept.
“Keluarga Malaysia means all member nations of the family should be treated fairly and equally, and not one family member is way far richer and more prosperous than the (other) two family members (Sarawak and Sabah) who are languishing in poverty,” she said.
In calling for change, she claimed Sarawak continues to have the highest poverty rate and is in permanent economic stress after almost 60 years of federalism.
With the RM111 billion fund, Soo said she had her plans drawn out, and the first priority must go to the children as they are the leaders of tomorrow.
“Sarawak has more than 1,000 dilapidated schools across 6,000 villages. Apart from repairs to the main buildings and teachers’ quarters, electricity supply, clean water, Internet access, beds and mattresses for boarding schools need urgent attention.
“Sarawak must bring back our own teacher training colleges which had served Sarawak well for decades, and we do not need imported teachers from other states, as Sarawakians can be trained to educate our young population.”
Other areas to be developed, she said, included healthcare, infrastructure, small and medium sized industry, and food security.
Soo also proposed the setting up of a Universal Basic Income (UBI) Dividend Fund akin to Alaska Permanent Fund where eligible citizens of Alaska receive a dividend every year.
“This UBI dividend, as unconditional cash assistance, can be distributed on a regular basis to every Sarawak citizen at RM500 per month to uplift every Sarawakian out of poverty and optimize high economic equality.
“National debt has ballooned to more than RM950 billion, and is forecasted to exceed RM1 trillion by mid-2022. Sarawak, rich in natural resources is mired in poverty and expected to shoulder the burden with its oil and gas pumped away as fast as possible to service the national debt.”
Thus, she urged the federal government to stay true to its commitment to maintain a Malaysian Family where equality is key, otherwise it would only be political rhetoric and lip service by the government of the day. — DayakDaily