Speaker: See fails to prove Masing has misled state legislature

Asfia (centre) showing the proposed second trunk road project map to reporters. Also seen are state Public Works Department deputy director (Infrastructure) Chai Tse Jin and Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Transportation’s project coordinator Philip Ng (right).

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KUCHING, August 29: Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How’s Leave and Notice application dated Aug 24 to refer Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing to the Committee of Privileges for alleged contradictory statements on the proposed Second Trunk Road has been rejected.

Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar said Masing would not be referred to the committee as there were neither inconsistencies nor contradictions in the two speeches made by him in the DUN sittings as recorded in the Hansard dated Nov 16, 2017, and July 17, 2018, as well as an interview published by online news portal DayakDaily on Aug 21.

“After perusing through the three speeches and studying carefully the Second Trunk Road project, no breach of privilege had been committed by the deputy chief minister.

“All the details mentioned in the three statements are substantially, fundamentally and materially the same. In the two speeches and interview, there are neither recklessness nor negligence committed,” Asfia told a press conference here today.

In his application, See alleged that Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure Development and Transportation, had breached the privileges of the DUN under Standing Order 73. He claimed Masing had made three statements with different versions of the second Trunk Road Project; thus he had misled the august House.

Explaining the three ‘different’ versions of the Second Trunk Road, Asfia said Masing’s statement in the November DUN sitting last year described the project at the initial concept and identification (desk top study) of the preliminary line from Kuching to Sibu.

The distance of about 255km comprises Kuching-Samarahan at 18km, which is an existing road; Kota Samarahan-Roban at 112km, which is a new road in the proposed project; and Roban-Sibu via Kelupu, Julau, Durin (KJD Road) at 125km, which is also an existing road.

Therefore, the new road is only 112km, not 255km.

Asfia added that the project’s starting point from Kuching is at Tabuan Jaya and ends at the Sibu/Bintulu Road junction.

“The distance of around 100km was of an earlier estimation during the desk top study. After the Value Assessment Lab (optimisation of scope and costing) conducted on Feb 6-9 this year, the scope for Package B (Sebuyau to Sri Aman/Betong) is finalised at 94km,” he said.

A map detailing the package and scope-of-work of the proposed Second Trunk Road project.

Masing’s second statement in the DUN sitting last July described the finalised scope of the proposed Second Trunk Road after the valued assessment conducted on February this year.

Asfia pointed out that the Value Assessment Lab revealed that Package A (from Kota Samarahan to Roban) is 112km. Package B (comprising Sebuyau to Sri Aman/Betong) is 94km and Package C (comprising Jalan Kelupu/Tanjung Genting to Lanang Road (upgrading to a 4-lane dual carriageway)) is 30km. Total length is 236km.

“The finalised scope will be utilising the existing road from Kuching to Samarahan and the existing Roban to KJD junction via the Pan Borneo Highway. This in addition to the introduction of Package C,” he said.

As for the interview in DayakDaily, Asfia said the statement quoted the distance of 235km from Kota Samarahan to Sibu (not the scope of the proposed second trunk road), which comprises Kota Samarahan to Roban proposed road at 112km as well as the existing Roban to Sibu via Kelupu/Julau/Durin (KJD Road) at 125km. The total is 237km (but rounded as 235km).

“All the three explanations were consistent, no contradictions, and there is no attempt to mislead or deliberate misleading for an offence to be committed under Standing Order 73,” Asfia said.

See had not proven that Masing had been reckless or negligence, let alone trying to mislead the Dewan, he added.

“Under Standing Order 32(12), any member who makes statement in the Dewan that deliberately misleads the Dewan is deemed to be out of order or to be contempt. The misleading must be deliberate.

“The proviso of Standing Order 73(3) reads: Provided that no matter shall be referred to the Committee of Privileges under subparagraph (a) or (b) unless the Speaker is satisfied that the matter complained of affects the privileges of the Dewan and has been raised at the earliest opportunity,” Asfia explained. — DayakDaily