SIBU (Oct 15): A railway should be constructed to link Sarawak and Sabah, suggested Senator Robert Lau.
He said the project could link Kuching, Sibu, Bintulu, and Miri in Sarawak with Kota Kinabalu in Sabah.
According to him, the railway could be planned with a road to link up with the future capital of Indonesia, which would be about 400km from Sarawak’s border.
He proposed the border crossing be located near the site of the now under-construction Baleh Dam.
“This will be an international joint project like the Rapid Transit System between Malaysia and Singapore. This will be a massive game changer not only for Sarawak but also for the country but the BIMP-Eaga growth area,” Lau said while debating the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) in the Dewan Negara yesterday.
The new Indonesian capital is set to be situated on a 256,000ha site in Sepaku district, which straddles the regencies of North Penajam Paser and Kutai Kartanegara.
Lau pointed out that the only major infrastructure project in Malaysia’s Bornean territories for the last half a century is the Pan Borneo Highway, which was planned under the 10th Malaysia Plan.
“It is still being mentioned in this plan (12MP) as a project that ‘will be undertaken’.
“While Malaya has other projects that keep being proposed and implemented like the ECRL, MRT 1, MRT 2, MRT 3, Johor Bahru – Singapore Rapid Transit System, and the numerous highways and expressways such as Central Spine Road (325km) and East Coast Expressway (433km). Sarawak and Sabah have again been left behind,” he lamented.
Lau stressed there is a need to fast track development in Sarawak and Sabah.
“The lack of basic infrastructure in these two Borneo territories is the main factor for the highest poverty rate from these states in Malaysia. This is repeatedly mentioned in the book (detailing the 12MP),” he said.
He called for Sarawak and Sabah to each receive 40 per cent of the country’s development funds due to their large size geographically and the serious lack of development since 1963.
“Furthermore, Sarawak has contributed hugely to the national coffers through oil and gas. Sarawak is just asking for her fair share. That was the justification for Sarawak and Sabah to join Malaya in the formation of Malaysia,” he said.