PETALING JAYA: The Sabah chief minister should whisper louder in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s ears to get at least RM5 billion immediately to help the people in the state, Jeffrey Kitingan said today.
The Bingkor assemblyman was referring to Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman having said once in the state assembly that he only needed to whisper in Najib’s ears to get development funds.
“The RM5 billion can help alleviate the immediate suffering of Sabahans.
“If Musa is unable to get the funds and help the people, then the people should change the ruling party in Putrajaya, which also heads the Sabah government,” Jeffrey said in a statement.
He was commenting on flash floods which had occurred in Kota Belud over the weekend. The flash floods swept through the shops and town, causing a massive traffic jam among other things.
“It’s obvious that Sabahans are now suffering from years of neglect. This is all due to the federal and Sabah governments failing to properly fund and develop the state,” Jeffrey, who is STAR president, said.
However, the veteran Sabah opposition leader said the flash floods were not just due to the heavy rains from the tail-winds of typhoon “Nock Ten” in the Philippines.
“It’s also due to the lack of proper drainage. There’s no flood mitigation.”
Jeffrey recalled the massive floods that hit Donggongon, in the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu, about two years ago. The Sabah Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) said a RM200 million flood mitigation programme could have helped minimise the losses, Jeffrey said.
“The federal funding never came for the flood mitigation project in Donggongon,” he said.
At the same time, he noted, Putrajaya spent RM1.18 billion on two flood mitigation projects in Kemaman, Terengganu, and Kuantan, Pahang.
“The RM730 million for flood mitigation in Budget 2017 was mostly for the peninsula. There’s very little for Sabah,” Jeffrey said.
He added that the federal housing ministry has a RM9 billion budget for flood mitigation in housing areas.
“According to media reports, another RM400 million would be needed for a similar flood mitigation programme in Putatan, and part of Penampang, in Kota Kinabalu,” he said.
“Floods are not the only reason that Sabahans are suffering. There are numerous reports on the consequences of the lack of federal funding, Jeffrey said.
In 2014, he said, then deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced RM1 billion to repair about 600 dilapidated school buildings in Sabah and Sarawak.
Sadly, he said, todate almost all the schools remain in disrepair.
“It is simply due to non-funding by the federal government.”
He cited other examples: the Public Works Department (PWD) Sabah had said RM2 billion was urgently needed for a backlog on road repairs, particularly hillslopes prone to landslides; and RM700 million to repair some 62 bridges on federal roads.
“Only RM33 million was received for the bridge repairs.”