By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Nov 14: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said between 1966 to 2018, the federal government allocated an accumulative total of RM79 billion or 7.3 per cent of the total RM1.1 trillion for Malaysia for Sarawak, while the Sarawak government itself spent RM80 billion, for development within Sarawak over the same period of time.
Amidst high expectations of increased allocations for Sarawak under Budget 2019,, Abang Johari said Sarawak was given RM4.35 billion, which was marginally larger than for preceding years.
“This is a major disappointment after the big pre-Budget announcement by Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak, a week before, that the allocation for Sabah and Sarawak would increase from 25 per cent to 30 per cent of total allocation in the Malaysian Budget.
“In fact, the allocation to Sarawak is only 7.9 per cent for 2019. This is a shameless lie by PH Sarawak to falsify (sic) and mislead Sarawakians.
“It has also defended the cancellation of many projects for Sarawak on account of (the projects) not being budgeted for, while the Malaysian Budget was being prepared. It is clear that PH Sarawak lied and they have no say in the Federal Government,” said Abang Johari while presenting his winding-up speech at Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) today.
He said that was why he had resolved that the state would trust only itself to undertake Sarawak-centric policies which are good for Sarawak.
“We must be prepared to chart our own future for the sake of our children and grandchildren. We in Sarawak have to decide our own fate. Only Sarawakians can take care of Sarawak.
“It is for this reason that I announced a record development budget of RM9.1 billion for 2019 for Sarawak out of our own resources on the first day of DUN. It is time that we seriously begin to develop the infrastructure of our economy for future growth based upon our own and foreign investment, hard work and ingenuity of our people,” said Abang Johari.
He said Sarawak now must build a new network of transport and logistics for the production and export of agriculture food production, agricultural processing and services for international trade including finance.
On rural development which he described as one of the most challenging areas, he said the greatest challenge has been the creation of economic value out of the rural resources.
“Most of the rural resources have been used by our indigenous communities to sustain their traditional ways of life. Modern education has attracted rural youth to migrate to urban centres in search of advancement and the modern way of life, thereby eroding the demography of the rural population.
“There appears to have some kind of stable of symbiosis between the rural and urban population, whereby the youth make money in town and send some to their parents in the kampong and longhouses, while they carry on maintaining their traditions. That is why we want to focus on rural development so that our rural areas can be modernised and become new towns when the youth can return to to work,” he said.
He also acknowledged that globalisation has allowed rural communities to be informed of the rights of indigenous peoples and the struggle for the protection of the natural wild environment.
“This provides an avenue for the opposition political parties to enter the heartland and bring disquiet to the hearts of our indigenous people. I think these are the signs of the times and I am not going to stop that.
“Instead, if the rural people want change, I shall help you to bring about the change that you want. I am always, first and foremost, an Anak Sarawak who is the Chief Minister of all Sarawakians.
“Let us not be taken advantage of by non-Sarawak political parties in Sarawak politics. How can peninsular political parties help the indigenous people of Sarawak when they cannot help the Orang Asli to enter the mainstream?
“I would not be the one to prejudge what our indigenous communities really want. Instead, I choose to listen to your leaders and I respond to their requests accordingly. This is why I have approved allocations amounting to RM6 billion in this budget for all the requested basic infrastructure and amenities across the whole of our interior and hinterland from Lundu, Serian, Betong, and Kapit to Baram and Limbang and Lawas,” he said.
On the subject of native customary rights (NCR) land, he said the perimeter survey is an important milestone for the indigenous communities of Sarawak.
“It is very difficult for individuals to accurately demarcate the boundary of their individual lots, but not impossible to be able ascertain with some satisfaction on all sides the overall boundary for each respective whole community.
“The rights to NCR land are implicit in the perimeter survey of the NCR land. Without recognising those rights, there would have been no perimeter survey. Since the federal government has refused to continue with the perimeter survey, the Sarawak government will pay to get this survey job done quickly,” he said.
He pointed out that NCR land would only be valuable when it is accessible and bears economic value.
“To derive great economic value from land, there must be economic activities to drive economic value and an open market where the enlarged demand will fetch the higher market price.”
“It is for this reason that I have as much emphasis on building basic infrastructure in the rural areas so that the increase in economic activities will drive higher income for the rural people,” said Abang Johari. — DayakDaily