‘Federal Govt singing same old tune on development allocations’

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KUCHING: Sarawak Opposition Leader Baru Bian has noted a declaration by Deputy Finance Minister Lee Chee Leong that the Federal Government gives the main priority to Sarawak’s development.

“He said the Federal Government will continue to take proactive measures to develop rural areas.”

He also referred to a statement by Deputy Chief Minister James Masing that the Federal Government had pledged RM24 billion to link all places in Sarawak by road by 2030.

Sadly, said Baru who is a senior lawyer in private practice, he has heard the same tune being sung by the Federal Government since the very beginning.

It goes back to 1963, when Sarawak and Sabah formed Malaysia together with Malaya, he recalled. “It has been a string of empty promises since then.”

He has no reasons to believe that anything has changed.

“Even the Chief Minister was facing problems reclaiming our rights which had been eroded.”

The sad and inescapable fact was that Sarawak was still dependent on allocations from the Federal Government for development, lamented Baru. “This is the truth of the matter.”

“The people are beginning to see the reality of the Federal-State balance of power situation.”

Where the Opposition had been blamed for lack of projects, continued Baru, the people are now seeing that it was due to the Federal Government.

He feels that one way of expediting projects, without relying on the Federal Government, was to increase the oil royalties to 20 per cent.

He urged the Chief Minister and Ministers to continue demanding what was owing to the people of Sarawak.

As 31 August approaches and Sarawakians are asked to celebrate the Malayan Independence Day, he stressed, the people should reflect on the price they had to pay since 1963 for the lack of development.

He wonders for how much longer the people of Sarawak would be willing to put up with inequality.

“I believe not much longer.”