PETALING JAYA: Lim Guan Eng’s political secretary today defended the finance minister’s statement that the federal government is prepared to extend RM350 million to Sarawak for school repairs if the latter settles loans of the same amount to Putrajaya.
Tony Pua also said accusations that Lim had a malicious intention when saying this were wrong.
“It only serves to strain ties between the federal government and the Sarawak government,” he said in a statement.
Pua went on to say that he “regretted” Sarawak Assistant Corporate Affairs Minister Abdullah Saidol’s remarks that Lim’s comments were a “tasteless political statement”.
On Monday, Lim had revealed that Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg had agreed to pay back RM350 million to Putrajaya as the first phase of repayment of a RM1 billion loan.
He said the implementation schedule, the list of schools and the tenders for the projects would be finalised later.
He said the first phase of the school repair project would be implemented before the end of 2019 and that the federal government had agreed in principle to accept part of the RM1 billion loan repayment to be used for school repairs.
Lim’s remarks drew flak, with PSM accusing the Bagan MP of being a bully and Umno’s Abdul Rahman Dahlan labelling him as “arrogant”.
Pua, however, said Lim had clearly stated his willingness to work with the Sarawak government to repair the dilapidated schools.
“His statement was based on facts and an understanding (between the federal and state government), which should not be politicised by certain quarters.”