THE government must make sure that the allocations under the state Budget 2015 for rural development are utilised effectively and efficiently, said Baru Bian (PKR-Ba Kelalan).
Making this call when debating on the Supply Bill (2015) yesterday, Baru said real efforts ought to be taken to narrow the development gap and improve the lives of the rural population.
The state PKR chairman was encouraged that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem had fixed his mind on narrowing the considerable developmental gap between the urban and rural areas and allocated a sizeable portion of the 2015 budget for rural development.
“We must put a stop to the high leakages from the budget allocations through corruption, crony deals, direct awarding of contracts without tenders, sub-standard delivery and the like.
“I recall a news report dated Nov 29, 2009 that Sarawak Cabinet had ordered an internal investigation into claims by the MACC (Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission) that up to 60 per cent of government allocations, running into billions of ringgit, meant for vital infrastructure projects between 2002 and 2008 had been misappropriated
“As usual, to date I know no one has been charged and I wonder what has become of the cabinet direction,” Baru said.
While thankful to the government’s intention to build a road from Lawas to Ba Kelalan and Bario, Baru said more roads were needed there to connect all the rural villages besides triggering agricultural and economic activities.
“A good road system will enable local produce to be transported to major towns and help arrest the rural-urban migration rate.
“Tourism can also be encouraged with better roads and more comfortable transportation.”
He said the people of Long Lellang had to endure the terrible logging road to Miri for many years, which at times was impassable.
“In particular, the stretch from Long Lellang to Camp C is a horrendous stretch of road. Long Lellang is
accessible only by the Twin Otter aircraft at the moment, which makes travel a high expense item for many families.
“I want to ask if the government has any plans to build and construct a proper road to connect to long Lellang.”
Baru, who is a native customary rights (NCR) lawyer, also requested that the government look into improving the native courts and provide the august house with statistics on the number of judges and cases pending hearing at every level of the native courts.
He commented that there was a shortage of judges in the native courts and some of the current ones did not seem to be cognisant of the ‘adat’(custom) of the indigenous communities, adding that cases were not moving at an acceptable speed.
Baru also urged Adenan to continue to press the federal government for 20 per cent oil royalty, which he described as “a right for which Pakatan Rakyat has been advocating over the past five years”.