Monday, August 15

PSB to announce proposed post-Covid-19 aid package for Sarawak


Wong interacts with other PSB members during the virtual seminar conducted via Zoom.

KUCHING (May 3): Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) would be announcing a proposed post-Covid-19 assistance package for Sarawak as the state election draws near.

In stating this, PSB president Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh said the party would promote the plan to provide relief and assistance to all sectors of the economy in order to safeguard the livelihood, the employment and the future of those involved.

He said under this package, the much-needed assistance would cover small and medium enterprises (SMEs), financing repayments, wage subsidy programme, rental assistance, financial assistance to families based on their household income level, and aid to those living in the rural areas.

“We have set up a committee to formulate the package that would best serve the interest of the people, while taking care of the economy,” said Wong, who is Bawang Assan assemblyman, during a seminar hosted by PSB Youth Central Committee via Zoom yesterday.

Adding on, the PSB president said the government had been caught in a Catch-22 situation over balancing lives and livelihood during this Covid-19 pandemic.

He acknowledged that the government had rolled out a series of assistance programmes meant to support the economy and the people’s livelihood, but more still needed to be done to protect the people’s jobs, incomes and business activities.

Wong, who is the state’s former second finance minister, also asked the Sarawak government that the special assistance of RM500 granted to those in the state civil service for this year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Gawai celebrations, to also be extended to ‘other vulnerable groups’.

On Covid-19 containment efforts, Wong said Sarawak must be granted autonomy rights with regard to deciding the appropriate measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the state.

“Our state committee or agency would understand the Covid-19 situation on the ground better than our federal counterparts, more so when our federal counterparts have to rely on reports from our side before making any decision.”

Wong said the management of the Covid-19 situation at state level must be properly managed and coordinated to avoid causing anxiety to the public; thus, the autonomy granted to the state would serve the local public health interest well.

Wong further said the government should study the approaches deployed by other countries like Singapore and Australia in managing the pandemic, including pumping money into the economy from reserve funds to help people keep their jobs.

“In a pandemic like this, government’s intervention should become a cornerstone in the Covid-19 response. The government can organise and mobilise (programmes) to save lives and livelihood, and they must be the agent that provides financial assistance to all.”

At federal level, Wong said there were many decision-makers involved in Covid-19 containment efforts, including the Health, Education and Defence ministries, on top of the state and division-level disaster management committees.

In this respect, he was concerned about the constant changing of decisions, which would only cause unnecessary confusion among the people.

Furthermore, Wong said the state government’s Covid-19 vaccination drive had left much to be desired, stressing that all preparations towards getting hold of the vaccines should be activated earlier, to facilitate prompt and speedy administration of the vaccination programme.

On PSB, Wong regarded it as a political party that stood for equality, justice, fair play and progress for all community, and its priority would be to fund development projects that would generate the maximum benefits for the most people.

He said he might have travelled about 50,000km to 60,000km all across Sarawak to reach out to the people, and the response from all communities towards the party had been overwhelming.

“PSB is also a platform to unite all diverged interests into a cohesive united force,” said Wong, pointing out that the people in Sarawak had a shared destiny and responsibility in nation-building.