KUCHING, Nov 17: State DAP asserts that Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian has made a misleading comparison between the Pakatan Harapan-held Penang and Selangor to Barisan Nasional-held Sarawak during the latter’s winding-up speech at State Legislative Assembly recently.
Describing Dr Sim’s view as ‘downright comical’, Dr Kelvin Yii, special assistant to state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen said SUPP had exposed the shallowness of their understanding on the matter of governance as well as their deliberate attempt to mislead the public to cover up their negligence and failure to responsibly develop Sarawak.
“It is questionable why Dr Sim chose to use his winding-up speech as a minister to politically attack Penang, by purposely compared Penang and Selangor governments in terms of revenue and development expenditure with the state’s reserves, in an attempt to paint a picture that Sarawak is better governed and better managed than the Pakatan Harapan governments in Penang and in Selangor.
“However, while the figures of those particular parameters pointed out are correct, its interpretation is misleading,” said Dr Yii in a press statement yesterday.
Dr Yii said the Sarawak budget totaling RM5.525 billion has always been one of the highest in the country due to the state being rich in resources and income generated through produce of land including oil palm, agricultural products, timber and others. In addition, oil and gas royalties, mining and quarrying, and timber generates more than RM31.5 billion in revenue for the state on top of other federal allocations.
In comparison, he said Penang has very little natural resources or even land to profit from agriculture, and there was why the state only has an estimate revenue of RM504 million.
He pointed out that SUPP also conveniently left out the fact the Sarawak has the third highest share of the federal budget while Penang, the least.
”That begs a question, with such high revenues in the state, why are we so behind in terms of development in comparison to Peninsular Malaysia?
“So the question is, is the measure of good governance shown through a fat bank (account), or when the people feel the benefits channeled to them?” asked Dr Yii.
He said although it was commendable that 70 per cent of the state budget would be spent on development, why Sarawak was so left behind in the first place should be questioned.
“Even with high revenue year after year due to our riches and resources, questions have to be asked; has it been responsibly distributed for equitable development in the state, or have these resources been plundered to enrich an elite bunch at the expense of the general public causing us to lack and lag so far behind?”
He pointed out that though Sarawak is rich in natural resources, it has the highest number of hardcore poor.
“In 2014, Sarawak had the largest number of poor people (‘miskin tegar’) in Malaysia based on figures by E-Kasih.
“In 2016, not much has been done to reduce the number and instead there was even a slight increase to 109,605 to reflect the still high amount of poor in the state.”
He said the measure of good governance is based on the responsible distribution of wealth to the people.
In terms of state debt, he said Penang has reduce its state debt to the federal government by 95 per cent while Sarawak’s debt to the federal government stands at RM2,552,529,080.79, just after Sabah and Pahang.
He said the federal government made sure each state owes the federal government as the more they owe, the more subservient and dependent the states become to the federal government.
“What is worst, after making such misleading remarks and allegations, Dr Sim did not have the courage to take any clarifications and questioning from the opposition bench which is a healthy practice under a democratic system but instead, hid behind the ruling of the Speaker.
“I thus urge Dr Sim and SUPP to not mislead the public to cover up their inefficiency and failure to defend our rights and interest in the state,” said Dr Yii. — DayakDaily