KUCHING: Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chief Chong Chieng Jen has taken Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to task for claiming that the Finance Ministry had not kept its word to repair dilapidated schools in the state.
“Before he starts making baseless statements, he should at least enquire with (Tan Sri) James Masing who is in-charge of the state’s Department of Works (JKR),” Chong said in a statement, after giving details of the Finance MInistry’s order for the work to commence.
The chief minister was either ignorant of what Masing, who is a Deputy Chief Minister and the Infrastructure and Ports Development Minister, is doing or he was making statements for political gains, the Sarawak DAP chairman added.
Abang Johari had said at a townhall session in Lundu on Sunday that the Federal government has yet to start works although the state has paid the first tranche of RM350 million out of an agreed sum of RM1 billion.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said his ministry had on August 5 issued a letter instructing the Education Ministry to carry out preliminary works on the project, three days before Sarawak paid the RM350 million.
He also said the Sarawak JKR had identified seven schools for the repair works and the tender was advertised on Monday, adding that the tender for the remaining 30 projects would be issued at the end of October this year.
Chong pointed out today that the Education Ministry had in fact issued the project implementation authorisation letter to the Works Director-General and Sarawak JKR on August 15 to proceed with the implementation of the projects.
“It is clear that both the Finance Ministry and Education Ministry have given urgent and immediate attention and action towards the above matter.
“In fact, for speedier implementation of the repair of dilapidated schools projects, the Finance Ministry has also given the green light for the said projects to be undertaken by the Sarawak State Department of Works working together with the Sarawak State Government,” said Chong.
He also reminded Abang Johari that the RM350 million grant was additional allocation by the Federal Pakatan Harapan Government for the benefit of the people of Sarawak.
“It is not the State allocation. The State Government was merely paying its debt of RM350 million to the Federal Government. When a person pays his debt to a creditor, the money belongs to the creditor and it is not for the debtor to impose upon the creditor as to how the creditor is to use the money.
“In the present case, it is out of the goodwill of the Federal Government that the money is allocated back to the State for the repair of dilapidated schools,” he said.