Tiong: I’m no racist, just concern with safety along Pan Borneo Highway project

Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing

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KUCHING, Jan 18: Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) president Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing has rubbished criticism that he is racially biased in his outburst against Works Minister Baru Bian.

The Bintulu MP, in responding to former party member Dr Roland Mattu, said his recent media statement should not be confused as racially biased or motivated by emotions.

He deemed Dr Roland’s allegation as unfounded and disappointing. Dr Roland bringing up the racial card has done a disservice to the Orang Ulu ethnic group, he added.

“My statements on the Pan Borneo Highway including those related to Baru over the year is wholly unrelated to racial matters but based on facts surrounding the outstanding issues.

“Anyone can see that my statements including my remarks in Parliament criticising Baru’s under performance in ensuring smooth and effective completion of the Pan Borneo Highway date all the way back to when he was first appointed Works Minister.

“Since then, I had taken to task his sub-par track record in his duties because of the significant safety risk posed to all road users, and not of any particular race or ethnic background,” he said.

Tiong asserted that for nearly two years, Baru as the minister responsible for the overall safety and completion of the Pan Borneo Highway, has allowed works to be haphazardly completed, road signs not put up, potholes left uncovered and warning roads unlit.

“For my questions in Parliament on these issues and more related to the Pan Borneo Highway project, Baru has not seen fit to answer them himself and instead, delegated his deputy minister to the job.

“This too reflects the nominal amount of care and attention he chooses to lavish on the important and vital project with all its flaws and safety hazards. Even his own deputy minister had admitted poor performance in ensuring safety standards are followed,” he continued.

He reiterated that till now, there has been no improvement in the safety measures along the under-construction highway.

“If I do not call for his resignation, am I supposed to continue bringing up these issues to his and his staff when they will only land on deaf ears? If there are any road accidents that could have been avoided if not for these road conditions, do they even feel any guilt?

“Dr Roland, do not be overly sensitive over any calls for a more competent Works Minister because it is about who is fit to hold the post, not of which racial background he or she is,” Tiong said.

Dr Roland was reported as saying in media today that Tiong should give Baru the chance, as the minister was doing his best for the community and make the road go through Orang Ulu country with Sabah-Sarawak link road.

He reminded Tiong should remember that the Orang Ulu community leaders had supported him in the past and were together with him as founding members of the then Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP), before it was rebranded as PDP in October 2016.

Taken aback by Tiong’s outburst against Baru over the Pan Borneo Highway project, Dr Roland said Baru’s resignation would be a great disservice to the Orang Ulu community.

Yesterday, Tiong challenged Baru to resign from his ministerial post if road safety along the Pan Borneo Highway project is not rectified.

Tiong said it is evident that many sections along the Pan Borneo Highway project were lacking in proper signages and warning lights, with poor road surface and traffic diversions. — DayakDaily