Frequent U-turns make dealing with Putrajaya difficult, says Sarawak minister

Sarawak wants to spend RM1 billion to improve schools in Sarawak.

KUCHING: A Sarawak minister said future dealings with the Pakatan Harapan government will “likely be difficult” due to its “continuous U-turns” on promises made.

State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin said this followed Putrajaya’s decision to turn down the Sarawak government’s offer of a RM1 billion loan to repair dilapidated schools in the state.

Sarawak had proposed that the money be offset against the state government’s debt with the federal government.

Manyin said in February, Education Minister Maszlee Malik had announced that the Cabinet had agreed that the Sarawak government’s RM1 billion debt with the federal government would be used to upgrade dilapidated schools in the state.

However, Manyin said a week later they were informed that Putrajaya had rejected the loan offer.

The federal government had now requested the Sarawak government to make an “advance payment” of RM1 billion for the repair works instead, he said.

“I have prepared a letter and will be making an appointment with Education Minister Maszlee Malik very soon to discuss and make an appeal on the issue,” he said when met after the Swinburne University of Technology’s Sarawak campus graduation ceremony here today.

He said there were many dilapidated schools in Sarawak and others which needed to be relocated due to floods.

“I’m not sure about the reason but because of this dispute, nothing has been done to upgrade these schools. The situation is very pitiful and we cannot do anything.”

However, he was optimistic that Sarawak would be able to reach an agreement with the federal government on the issue.