Sarawak govt’s ‘unlawful demands’ delayed school repairs, says state DAP

Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen accused the state government of making unlawful demands in terms of the allocation of funds, resulting in delays in repairing dilapidated schools in the state.

“As the chief minister and state finance minister, Abang Johari Openg should know that the legal mechanism suggested by the finance ministry is the rightful legal procedure for any allocation.

“For Abang Johari or Sarawak state Education Minister Michael Manyin to suggest other mechanisms of allocation is tantamount to asking the finance ministry to do something illegal and unconstitutional,” he said in a statement today.

Chong said the unlawful mechanism suggested by the state government for the allocation of the RM1 billion fund were, “firstly, the state government will identify the schools and then award contracts for the repairs”.

“Secondly, the state government will pay the contractors the total contract amount up to RM1 billion. Thereafter, the said sum will be set off and deemed repayment against the loan owed by the state government to the federal government.”

However, Chong said the legal mechanism was “the Sarawak government must first repay the RM1 billion loan owed to the federal government into the Consolidated Fund Account”.

“The federal government will allocate the said sum for the repair of schools in Sarawak,” he said.

Chong said the contracts for the repair of dilapidated schools must be awarded through open tender and priority would be given to schools selected by the state government for repairs.

“I am glad that finally, after an unnecessary delay by the state government of more than half a year, Abang Johari has now admitted to the legality of the finance ministry’s proposal and agreed to comply with it,” he said.

He urged the state government to promptly make the RM1 billion repayment so that the finance ministry can proceed with the allocation to repair the schools.

Chong said any delay by the state government would further postpone the repairs and give the impression that the state government had liquidity problems.