The false dawns of rural Sarawak


One of the most popular ceremonies carried out by government agencies and performed by politicians in the state is earth breaking of projects especially in the rural areas.

These symbolic commencements of projects were usually held when elections were near with the candidate for the constituency in which the projects were to be implemented very visible during the function.

One such site is the Opar Rural Growth Centre (RGC) in Bau where the earth breaking ceremony had been performed at least twice but till today the area of the proposed project remains an empty ground.

Another proposed RGC that suffers similar fate is the one in Padawan where it was reported even the foundation stone was laid after the earth breaking ceremony.

The ploy is obvious – give the people promises of development to garner votes during the election and then forget about fulfilling them.

To add insult to injury, after giving the same old excuse of not enough funds to implement the projects the same ruse was used again in another election as in the case of the Opar RGC.

Another election ‘prank’ played on the people is the installation of utilities infrastructure like water pipes and mains and electricity poles in rural villages indicating that the area would soon have water or electricity supply.

There are longhouses and villages in the state where water mains and electricity poles have been installed for years still waiting for treated water or electricity supply.

It defies logic that these amenities were installed when there was no plan to commission them. It was either poor management on the part of the planners or a wilful move to fool the people.

Despite their grumbling, the rural people have been patient all this while but now the strain is beginning to show.

And with the advent of social media these long forgotten promises in far flung areas are now being exposed.

It is unlikely that the same trick would work in the next election – as the cliché goes ‘…you cannot fool all the people all the time’.

However, a wind of change is sweeping across the state now that we have a chief minister who vowed to walk his talk.

Even as he goes about pursuing the goals he set, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem will have his work cut out delivering past promises that have yet to be fulfilled.

However, the fulfilment of some development promises is out of his hands as the funding comes from the federal government.

Adenan is not one who would keep quiet over pledges that are not met but he will need the support of all everyone in the state regardless of their political affiliation to press for the implementation of these promised projects.