Why axe Sarawak projects but approve pricier ones in Penang, PBB asks Putrajaya
Robin Augustin PETALING JAYA: PBB leaders have questioned the federal government’s move to cancel 65 small projects in Betong, Sarawak, while approving two projects in Penang which may cost up to five times more.
PBB vice-president Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said cancelling the projects, which cost some RM4.1 million, was “despicable” as they were meant to improve the lives of poor village folk in the state.
According to the Borneo Post, the projects included parking lots at a school, earthworks for a longhouse, public toilets and the upgrading of a farm.
The projects were to be implemented under the state’s Rural Transformation Programme but were cancelled by the Federal Development Office.
“This is made worse by the news that some RM23 million was approved for the construction of classrooms at two schools in Penang,” Karim said.
He was referring to reports of Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching’s announcement of allocations for the two schools.
The New Straits Times quoted Teo as saying the finance ministry had approved a request to build 18 classrooms at SJKC Kay Sin at a maximum cost of RM13 million, and 12 classrooms at SJKC Permatang Tinggi at RM10 million.
“Both the projects have been approved and are in the process of getting tenders before being implemented next year,” she said.
Karim, who is Sarawak tourism, arts, culture, youth and sports minister, claimed the state was being “punished” by the new government despite being the country’s largest contributor of oil and gas revenues.
“This is only in the Betong division,” he added. “I’m sure if we were to add up all the cancelled small projects previously approved by the Federal Development Office in the state, the amount would be much bigger.”
Santubong MP Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar meanwhile told FMT the cancelled projects had been “basic and small” ones aimed at making life better for the people.
“To urban people, these projects may not seem great but to rural folk, they are vital. Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is friendly to Pakatan Harapan (PH), yet this happens to us.
“Is this the fate of opposition states? If you say the basis of cancelling is because the government has no money, okay. But then you approve the two school projects in Penang at a higher cost.”
The former federal minister also voiced hope that Sarawak’s PH MPs could convince the government to restore the projects. (FMT)