Thursday, March 30

‘Report on defective schools no surprise’

Baru Bian

Baru Bian

KUCHING: Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, is not surprised at the Auditor-General’s report on the ‘serious defects’ in more than a quarter of the schools in Sarawak.

“In fact, nobody in Sarawak is surprised. I have visited all the 12 schools in my constituency and all but one are in serious disrepair. At every State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting, I bring up this distressing problem but it appears that there is no real effort on the federal government’s part to address these problems,” he said in a press conference, here, yesterday.

Baru, who is state PKR chairman, said millions had been spent drawing up a fancy Education Blueprint for 2013-2025 which gave itself lofty ideals or ‘shifts’, one of which was ‘Ensure 100 per cent of schools meet basic infrastructure requirements by 2015, starting with Sabah and Sarawak’.

“The so called ‘Wave 1 (2013-2015) of the Plan has rolled away but the objective of that wave, such as ‘by 2013, critical repairs and upgrades will be completed across all 1,608 schools with critical needs’ seems to have fallen by the wayside. This repair and upgrade was to proceed in stages, starting with Sabah and Sarawak.”

Baru recalled that in February last year, the then Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin promised an additional budget of RM1billion for Sabah and Sarawak to rebuild dilapidated schools.

“The honourable Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, in a reply to a question from me during the April 2014 DUN sitting said that the state government had approved 38 projects but was still waiting for funds from the federal government.

“Yesterday (Tuesday), she said we need RM422 million but the federal government only approved RM95 million, and that the allocation for us in the 2016 will not be enough.”

He said this sorry state of affairs went to show that the federal government did not really care about Sabah and Sarawak, except as a vote bank during the elections, questioning “…if the ministers truly have a heart for our people, what is so difficult about handing over the money we need?”

Baru said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had no qualms about giving his department an increase to RM20.3 billion in the budget for 2016 but cut funding for education, which went to show the warped priority of the government.

“The Education Blueprint, shows that Sarawak is at the second last place in a comparison of performance across states for UPSR and SPM in 2011. This is not surprising either as our pupils do not have proper facilities and conducive environment to study and learn.

“I do feel for Datuk Fatimah as it must be very frustrating to be always begging for money from West Malaysia.

I urge the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem who has, to his credit reminded West Malaysia of our rights under the Sarawak Constitution to use English as an official language, to now reclaim our rights to Education, together with an increased allocation that should come with it.”

However, he said, knowing the way the federal government had treated Sarawakians for so long, the best bet would be to give the opposition a chance.

“In our 18-Point roadmap, we promise to allocate RM1 billion for school repairs and our promise will not just be empty promises, which Sarawakians are now tired of hearing.”