KUCHING: Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) Batu Danau branch chairman Ali Adap wants Batu Danau Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) assemblyman Paulus Palu Ngumbang to explain the lack of development in his constituency while trying to defend the RM6 billion Second Trunk Road (STR) project.
Ali in a statement argued that while Batu Danau has been in dire straits, lacking much development while Paulus was its elected representative for the last three terms, the RM6 billion for the STR project could have been used to develop Batu Danau directly.
“Paulus has been a three-term state assemblyman for Batu Danau. I would like him to tell the people of Batu Danau what his contribution has been to Batu Danau which is still very much lacking in water, electricity and good road access. One good example is the lack of electricity to Kpg Melaban and Slidong. The project was abandoned with electrical posts overgrown with weed.
“Another example is the road to Ulu Lubai which has never been upgraded. The poor people there still have to use the timber log bridge.
“Yet another example is that the access road to Bawangubor and Kuala Medalam is still in bad condition and I, Ali Adap, even had to use my own private fund to upgrade Jalan Kuala Medalam for the people there.
“Paulus is the chairman of the GPS Backbenchers’ Club and he wants to show that he is concerned about the current issues raised by PSB that the GPS government has no answer to,” he said.
Ali was replying to a statement by Paulus on May 24 who said that PSB has an anti-rural stance by objecting to the RM6 billion STR project.
Paulus questioned a statement by PSB deputy president Johnical Rayong who claimed PSB was fully committed to the wellbeing of the people of Sarawak, but at the same time PSB would cancel the RM6 billion STR project because it is redundant.
Ali said the issues raised by PSB about the extravagant cost of the STR should have been answered by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing who is also Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development.
“We demand an answer from the minister himself – such extravagant costs must be explained to the people of Sarawak because the government is spending the people’s money. The money does not belong to GPS,” he added.
Turning his attention back at Paulus, Ali challenges the assemblyman to explain how the STR can uplift the welfare and cost of living of the people in his constituency Batu Danau, while at the same time still many villages and schools there are without good road system, water and electricity supplies.
“Paulus can proudly defend the STR but his first priority should be for improving his own Batu Danau area which has a crying need for basic rural infrastructures.
“If PSB cancels the STR and part of the RM6 billion that is saved from cancelling the STR could be channelled to Batu Danau, I, Ali Adap, am sure that rural infrastructure in Batu Danau will be improved. I am confident that, under the PSB, the rural and remote areas will be developed. The reason is that PSB will focus on the rural poor.
“PSB will not waste billions of ringgit on a redundant second trunk road, hydrogen buses, the proposed light rail transit (LRT) or autonomous rail transit (ART), digital economy and other such wasteful urban projects while the very poor people are being neglected,” he said.
Paulus said a PSB government will put the poor people first.
“To me, the first priority is the poor and neglected people in Batu Danau, and to PSB, it is to take care of all the rural poor in Sarawak. Do not expect us to believe that the extravagant and over-priced RM6 billion STR is going to benefit the rural poor.
“We will show that there are better uses for RM6 billion than building another trunk road when the Pan Borneo Highway and the Coastal Roads have not even been completed,” he said.
Ali said GPS does not understand that Sarawak has limited funds, and PSB would make use of the limited funds to help the underprivileged and not waste the money on unnecessary projects.
He added that GPS members kept harping on the benefits that some rural ‘kampungs’ or longhouses will benefit from another trunk road, but they seemed to miss the key point being highlighted by PSB.
“The STR will cost RM6 billion. That is a huge amount of money. What else can the government do for the poor with RM6 billion instead of building a superfluous road when there are so many urgent cases of poor and neglected people needing help? GPS must answer that question.
“If their answer is that the GPS government has no other use for RM6 billion other than to build a second trunk road, then it is for the people of Sarawak to judge if GPS is the best party to handle the State’s reserves for future generations of Sarawakians,” said Ali.
He also questioned Paulus’ position in the coming state election due in 2021, saying that Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) is claiming the Batu Danau seat in the coming state election, while Paulus himself is a Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) member who just joined recently.
“Will PBB take the PDP’s seat or will Paulus have to relinquish his seat to his former party?” Ali asked.