PETALING JAYA: Sarawak and Sabah Barisan Nasional leaders today blasted former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for blaming the slower progress in the two states compared to the peninsula on their “greedy” politicians and complacent people.
Federal Natural Resources and Environment Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Mahathir’s comments at an event yesterday were “not valid and unfair”.
The Pakatan Harapan chairman had said the two east Malaysian states could have progressed at a faster rate if their politicians were less greedy.
He also said the people in Sabah and Sarawak needed to work harder to close the economic gap with the peninsula.
But Wan Junaidi, a Sarawakian, said Mahathir was just looking for excuses to cover up the fact that he didn’t do enough to develop the two states despite being in power for 22 years.
“If Mahathir was really concerned about bridging the development gap between Sabah, Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia, he should have allocated more resources to both states.
“But where did Sabah and Sarawak’s oil money go to? Instead of building roads and developing infrastructure in Sabah and Sarawak, Mahathir was more concerned about building the Petronas Twin Towers and the Sepang International Circuit,” he told FMT.
Wan Junaidi also said when Mahathir’s former deputy, Anwar Ibrahim, launched the Satok flyover in Kuching in 1995, he pledged to rebuild 31 schools at a cost of RM500 million, but this promise was never kept.
“Don’t blame the people of Sabah and Sarawak. He was the leader of the country, he could have done so much more but didn’t. He is always looking for someone to blame,” said the PBB supreme council member.
On the other hand, Wan Junaidi said that Prime Minister Najib Razak, who Mahathir is seeking to replace in the coming general election, has done so much for the two states.
“Najib is building the Pan Borneo Highway. Najib has built bridges in Batang Lupar, Sadong, and Samarahan (in Sarawak). We have been asking for these since the 1990s but nothing happened. Without being asked, Najib built them.”
Sabah Assistant Finance Minister Ramlee Marahaban also hit out at Mahathir, saying the Pakatan Harapan prime minister candidate didn’t care about Sabah and Sarawak’s rights, let alone their development.
“During Mahathir’s time, Sabah and Sarawak leaders were never given important portfolios at the federal level,” he told FMT.
He said Mahathir had no right to comment on Sabah and Sarawak’s development because he neglected the two states, in terms of rights and allocations.
Ramlee said Najib is not only allocating billions to the two states but is also working with Sabah and Sarawak to return rights enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
“Enough is enough. Don’t look down on Sabah and Sarawak.”