KUCHING: Sarawakians cannot be faulted for having a ‘Sarawak First’ or ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ mentality as it is a result of being neglected by the federal government, said Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
“Can we blame Sarawakians for being parochial or having ‘Sarawak mentality’? It is not Sarawakians’ fault. It is Putrajaya’s fault that we have become what we are.
“Personally, I said many, many times in Parliament about the need for re-adjustment of annual budgeting by giving Sarawak doubly more funds for development, so that the government can close the gap between Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Wan Junaidi issued the statement in response to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who had urged Sabahans and Sarawakians to think as Malaysians and not as individual territories.
The premier said this following criticism that Putrajaya did not consult East Malaysia over several issues.
“I would like to remind everyone that we are all Malaysians. We may live in Sabah or Sarawak or in the peninsula, but we are Malaysians,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying at a press conference in Sepang on Friday.
Wan Junaidi also pointed out that the previous Barisan Nasional government under former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak from 2009 to 2017 had delivered many development programmes to Sarawak.
“But what happened to billions worth of projects, big and small? They were either cancelled, delayed or the fate of which remains unknown, when Pakatan Harapan took over the government in May 2018.
“These added bitterness to an already sour taste in Sarawkians’ mouth. Please don’t blame Sarawakians. We are the victims of the whole arrangement,” he added.
The MP said in his debates as Barisan Nasional backbencher for Vision 2020 in 1993, he argued that the success of Vision 2020 could only be judged if rural areas like Kapit, Kanowit, Batang Lupar, Ulu Baram and others had adequate roads, water supply, electricity, schools, hospitals and other public amenities, similar to Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Penang, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and other big cities.
As such, he pointed out Sarawak is lucky to have its own resources and funds which have been managed prudently by the Sarawak government.
“Now we are making use of our own means to develop Sarawak, taking over essential cancelled projects like bridges, roads, even school repair, so that we would not continue to be left behind in development.
“Are we to be blamed for having what is said to be a ‘Sarawak mentality’?”
He also said Dr Mahathir should ask the planning officers in his Prime Minister’s Department as well as Economic Planning Unit to read the Hansard in Parliament to see how much Sarawak MPs had talked and pleaded for funds and development for the state.