Sarawakians hope the surprises are similar to those announced by the prime minister for Sabahans last week
KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawakians are hoping for some pleasant surprises from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he makes a one-day visit to the Land of the Hornbill on Tuesday.
They hope the ‘Gawai goodies’ are similar to those announced by the prime minister for Sabahans during the Kaamatan festival last week.
Santubong MP Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar who is also Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker said: “We are expecting nothing less that what Sabah gets. It is only natural that we are hoping to get about the same. We are not going to ask what he is going to give but what he is going to offer to Sarawak.”
His colleague from Bintulu and also Barisan Nasional Backbencher Club chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said he hoped Abdullah would address the lack of funds for infrastructure projects in rural areas.
They include the setting up of Sabah State Development Office in place of the Sabah Federal Development Department, a RM1-billon special allocation for rural development and the formation of a cabinet committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to overcome Sabah’s longstanding illegal immigrant and refugee problem.
Sarawakians also hope Abdullah would address the high cost of transportation although Sarawak is one of the major oil producing states.
Although they understand that the global oil price is beyond the government’s control, many feel a bigger subsidy should be extended to them.
Among other things, Sarawak is expected to benefit from a federal government plan to introduce standard prices for nine control items namely sugar, petrol, diesel, steel, cement, wheat flour, condensed milk, chicken and cooking oil.
During the visit, the prime minister is expected to announce the appointment of a Sarawakian senior government official as the new Federal Sarawak Financial Officer.
Ahead of Abdullah’s visit, some community leaders interviewed by local dailies voiced their dissatisfaction and even questioned, for example, why the state did not get a better deal in oil royalty.
“They (federal government) should give us more than five per cent. It’s very hard to understand why they won’t increase the royalty to allow our state government to boost other industries like agriculture,” said one Kapitan Chan.
“Has the federal government ever wondered why people in rural areas need four-wheel drive vehicles?” asked Wee Hong Seng, Sarawak Tourism Federation president.
“It’s not that these rural folk are rich. It’s a necessity given the terrible road condition. So now these people will be penalised further,” he said.
The state government is expected to raise the issue of high transportation cost in sending fuel and food to smaller towns and remote areas in Sarawak during Abdullah’s visit.
Sarawak is heavily dependant on road and riverine transport to carry food and other essentials to its people while rural schools, longhouses and villages rely heavily on fuel for their power generators as they are not connected to the state power grid.
This is common in rural areas such as Medamit in Ulu Limbang, Baram, Bario, Ba Kelalan, Marudi, Bintulu, Sibu, Kapit and Julau.
“The federal government needs to be advised properly on the matter. The interior people must be assisted,” said John Sikie, Kakus assemblyman.
“Federal officers must look at Kapit, Song and Bario and work out plans on how to help these people.”
He said although there is no such demand, Sarawakians were hoping the federal government would understand their need for rural development.
Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Billy Abit Joo shared Tiong’s sentiments and said the policy makers should not assume that the rural people in Sarawak were okay just because they were not making demands.
“Rural development is for basic human needs. The people need all the help that the federal government can give to build clinics and other basic amenities,” he said.
“In Sarawak, we don’t talk so much about position.
“Sarawakians are too polite sometimes, hoping that people would understand their needs.”
Last week, Abdullah unveiled several measures to be taken by the federal government to address some of the major problems faced by Sabah.
read it at The Borneo Post Online.
p.s well i'm waiting what it going to be...