KUCHING, Sept 11: Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong has criticised Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing for quickly distancing himself from the ‘Jiwa Murni’ rural road project.
Yong pointed out that it was the responsibility of the governments at both federal and state level to ensure that people staying in the interior of Sarawak do not get sidelined but enjoy all the basic infrastructures including proper access roads.
“It is so unbecoming for James Masing as the Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development to quickly distance himself and claim that the Jiwa Murni Rural Road project has nothing to do with Sarawak government after two local companies’ directors were remanded and investigated for allegedly submitting false claims for the project,” she said in a statement today.
Yong thus reminded Masing of what he had said on July 5, 2017 as reported in a local English daily quoting him as saying: “It is the responsibility of the government to provide connectivity for the people. That has been why for some rural areas that need connectivity urgently, we build the Jiwa Murni road first – it requires less funds and can be built in a much shorter time, so connectivity can be provided.”
If indeed the Jiwa Murni rural road project under the Ministry of Defence has nothing to do with the Sarawak government, Yong then asked why did Masing talk so much about it as if he was the minister in charge then.
“How could it be possible that the Jiwa Murni rural road project is not connected to the state government when it is one which concerns very much on land usage for construction of roads?
“If what Masing’s claimed is true whereby the state government has nothing to do with the Jiwa Murni road project, does it mean all these Jiwa Murni rural roads were illegally constructed because the Sarawak government did not know about it and thus no prior state’s approval was given for it?,” she questioned further.
Yong believed that it was unlikely for a senior minister like Masing to be unaware of the state functions and duties when it came down to implementing any infrastructure development projects including those federal-funded.
Instead of giving various excuses to wash off the state’s responsibilities, she urged Masing to make a frank disclosure as to why all these years the state government kept silent about the Jiwa Murni road project, which had been shortchanged by some irresponsible parties, and letting people living in the interior parts of Sarawak suffered without proper road access.
“If Sarawak government cannot even provide the very basic amenities to benefit our rural people after staying in power for 57 long years, it clearly shows that this government has failed to be one of people’s centric and thus is not fit to continue governing Sarawak and must be replaced in the coming state election,” she stressed.
Meanwhile, Masing had on Sept 9 clarified that the Jiwa Murni roads in Sarawak were not under the purview of the Sarawak government or the state Public Works Department (JKR).
He said the Sarawak government was not connected to Jiwa Murni roads in either funding or awarding of contracts.
His statement came following two Sarawakian contractors being remanded by the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in connection with a RM800 million road upgrading projects.
The said project was under the Defence Ministry’s ‘Jiwa Murni’ programme which involved the upgrading of 10 rural roads in Miri, Ba Kelalan, Limbang, Kapit and Belaga. — DayakDaily