Sarawak minister questions Putrajaya’s sincerity over dilapidated schools

Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (second from left) announcing details of the upcoming Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival on Tuesday.

KUCHING: A state minister has questioned the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government’s sincerity in helping Sarawak students after it turned down an offer of a RM1 billion loan to repair dilapidated schools.

Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the state government was disappointed with the U-turn by Putrajaya after it initially agreed to take up the offer.

The loan was to have been repaid against the state government’s existing debt with the federal government.

“Initially, they (Putrajaya) agreed to the proposal but now, they have turned down our offer because they think the move might not benefit them in terms of politics,” Karim said after he announced details of the upcoming Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival today.

“Our intention is to help our students because there are too many dilapidated schools in Sarawak and the federal government is aware of this.

“I even had to use my own funds to repair two dilapdated schools in my constituency because if we were to wait for the federal funds, these schools would never have been repaired,” he said

Karim said education was under the federal government’s purview.

He criticised PH leaders in Sarawak, including Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen, Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii and Selangau MP Baru Bian, for not speaking up on the issue.

“What have they got to say about this? In the past, there were like fighters but now they’re all keeping quiet and I find this very disappointing,” he said.

Earlier, Karim said the Kuching Waterfront Jazz Festival, to be held on Sept 27 and 28, will feature performers from the peninsula, Australia, Thailand and Singapore.

“Jazz lovers will not be disappointed,” he said, adding that the state government’s plan is to turn Sarawak into a destination for music enthusiasts.