Wednesday, August 10

‘Spending reserves’ statement a reflection of Masing’s mentality, says Baru


Baru Bian

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing’s suggestion to use up Sarawak’s reserves of RM31 billion before the next state election to prevent the incoming government – should there be a change of power – from ‘looking good’ in the eyes of Sarawakians reflects his mentality.

PKR Sarawak chairman Baru Bian says the suggestion only goes to show that Masing is “a politician first and the DCM second” when it should be the other way around.

“For him, it is obviously not about the people anymore, but about his political relevance and survival. This is perhaps the reason he comes up with the most ‘ingenious’ suggestions for Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS),” he said in press statement yesterday.

Baru, who is Selangau MP and Ba Kelalan assemblyman, said the state’s reserves belong to the people of Sarawak, and not for GPS to spend their way to glory.

He said leaders in GPS are supposed to manage Sarawaks funds for the benefit of the people and not to make themselves score in the popularity stakes. “This statement by Masing is thoroughly irresponsible and selfish, and Sarawakians should be worried that this is the mindset of the DCM – someone who is entrusted to manage the affairs of the state.

“We need leaders who are prudent and who will utilise the funds of the state wisely in accordance with the needs of the rakyat, not someone who is desperately thinking of ways to hinder the work of the new government when the ‘old-BN-in-a-new-bottle’ is removed from government,” he said.

Baru believed that every government is expected to invest in development but the suggestion of Masing implies rash spending of the RM31 billion in the next three years just because he does not want the new government to have the use of the funds. If the suggestion is taken up, it will lead to unnecessary projects, wastage, leakage and possibly implementation of projects without the necessary due diligence because of haste, said Baru.

This spending spree, he warned, may lead to borrowing as Sarawak government projects are known never to stay within initial projected budgets, but instead exceed budgeted expenditure by multiples.

“Perhaps Masing wishes the incoming PH Sarawak government to be saddled with debts too! The current government, by whatever name you call it, has had over 50 years to show that they do care about Sarawak’s future and that they want to serve Sarawakians in the best possible way they can. Why is it that James Masing chooses ‘now’ as the time to do it?” he said.

Baru claimed that by Masing’s own words, the PRS president is admitting that the government has, up to now, not done its best for the people of Sarawak, and that they have not cared about Sarawak’s future and that they have not bothered about serving Sarawakians in the best possible way.

He believed every discerning Sarawakian knows this but finally, they have confirmation from none other than the deputy chief minister himself. Baru recalled that in November 2013, when he suggested in the Legislative Assembly that the government utilises its reserves to repair the many dilapidated schools in Sarawak, the Finance Minister shot that idea down saying: ‘… we should not use the basis of our healthy reserve which we have worked so hard to build over the past years to finance responsibilities beyond purview. If we start to work along this basis, the state would stretch too far and beyond its financial limit and capacity. Eventually, the state may face financial distress that will adversely impact us and our future generations.’

“I wonder what the Finance Minister has to say about Masing’s idea. Does he have the same consideration for our future generations? Unfortunately, James Masing appears to be too caught up in his political agenda now. His actions and words betray his real fear that GPS is going to lose in the next (state) election. If he continues to have more of these ‘inventive brainwaves’, his fear will prove to be a self-fulfilling reality in 2021.”