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Clean water, dirty loan

 | June 19, 2012

The RM235 million loan to the Sabah government for a water treatment plant in Keningau, may backfire on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

KENINGAU: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s sudden announcement of a RM235 million loan from the federal government to Sabah to upgrade water supply for Keningau alone has caught many here by surprise.

Most people here were sceptical of Najib’s announcement during his trip here last weekend.

One economist from Kuala Pemyu, Dr James Alin, questioned the motive behind the abrupt decision to grant Sabah a loan and not a federal grant, as was the normal procedure.

“The question that most Sabahans must ask is, why is the federal government lending us an umbrella when it is not raining? What is the ulterior motive?”

“The plight of the voters in Keningau on water supply has been ignored all this while and the loan shows that the federal government has been unfair to the people of Sabah all the time,” said Alin, whose own hometown in Kuala Penyu lacks water supply.

Another who shared Alin’s concern was State Reform Party (STAR) deputy chairman Daniel John Jambun,who described the “sudden aproval” as “insulting” to Sabahans as a whole and those in all other districts that also lack water supply.

“Sabah contributes around RM40 billion in taxes and oil wealth to the federal government every year for the last few years and Najib came here to announce a loan to upgrade an essential basic necessity like water?

“Why didn’t he just make an allocation for it in the coming federal budget? This is outrageous and an insult,” Jambun said.

He accused state leaders who hailed the announcement as “hypocrites” who knew that it was Sabah’s money that Najib is “lending us”.

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) vice-president, Melanie Chia, also expressed her dismay over Najib’s bragging.

Why are were borrowing?

Chia said it was humiliating to read that Najib had only announced the loan because Keningau MP, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, Joseph Pairin Kitingan, had over the past months been bugging him about the water problem in Keningau.

The loan comes two years after the State Legislative Assembly was told in 2010 that a major water supply project had been approved under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

The feasibility study costing RM10 million would be completed by May 2010 and the project would take 24 months to be completed at a total cost of RM210 million.

“It was shocking to note that Pairin had not discharged his duty well. Has it not been repeatedly announced by BN government leaders that this government under the leadership of Chief Minister Musa Aman is financially very sound, with some of them [including Pairin] saying it is ‘the best ever’?

“If the Sabah’s financial position is indeed that sound and glorious, why does Sabah need to be given a loan to do basic infrastructure like water supply?” she asked.


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