Saturday, July 20

Yong to continue pursuing musical fountain issue

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Yong at a press conference.

KUCHING: Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong says she will continue to make enquiry about the Darul Hana Musical Fountain and seek design and specification, and other relevant documents.

According to her, the project was of public interest and she hoped that the government would not hide anything.

At a press conference at DAP headquarters here yesterday, Yong said she was not satisfied with the reply from Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip to her question on the design and specification of the project she had requested on Dec 3.

She said Talib when replying to her through a letter on Tuesday failed to furnish her with the design and specification of the project, despite having said at the last State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting that he was prepared to do so.

“I am very disappointed with the reply from Talib for not extending me with the design and specification of the Darul Hana Musical Fountain project as requested by me on Dec 3 through my official letter..instead of giving me the design and specification, he (Talib) said the project is currently being audited by National Audit Department,” she told the press conference.

She claimed that Talib has something to hide about the project, while the state government is keeping quiet, adding that the project was overpriced.

“The project is not awarded on open tender, but built at exorbitant contract to benefit ‘small circle’ of people.

“I will continue to pursue the issue because the RM31 million should not benefit only certain people, “ Yong said, adding that the state government should not sweep the problem under the carpet.

At the conference, Yong also called on the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government to apologise to the people of Sarawak for keeping quiet about the federal government’s special grant to the state, which was given under the Tenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution and to be reviewed every five years.

She said she was saddened the special grants had not been reviewed since 1969 as claimed by the state legal counsel Datuk Seri JC Fong.

She alleged that the state government under the Barisan Nasional (BN) regime had kept silent and had not made any request for the previous federal government to review the special grant for the past 49 years.

“Obviously the state government during the BN’s era had not played its role in safeguarding the state’s interest and the interest of Sarawakians,” she said.

She added that if there had not been a change of government on May 9 this year, the subject would still be swept under the carpet.

Fong made the revelation about the special grant at the ‘Sarawak Rights Under MA63 (the Malaysia Agreement 1963) Forum’ here recently where he was invited as one of the speakers.

He had said the Malayan government had agreed upon the formation of Malaysia, special grants for Sarawak under the Tenth Schedule of the Federation Constitution and be reviewed every five years.

Fong said apart from these special grants, Sarawak was also entitled to other revenues, such as import and excise duties on petroleum products, export duties on forest and timber products and minerals, including mineral oils.

He said import and excise duties were not collected because Malaysia had become a party to the Asean Trade Agreement, but the loss of this source of revenue (valued at more than RM300 million annually) was not replaced by substituted sources of revenue or equivalent value as required by the Federal Constitution.

Fong said this in his talk entitled’ Equal Status for Partnership for Sabah and Sarawak within Federation of Malaysia’ during the Sarawak Rights under Malaysia Agreement Forum on Dec 7 at the Islamic Information Centre (IIC) here.