September 24, 2008
By Dr John Brian Anthony
How does Federal Gov’t budget for Sarawak?
The call for Sarawak to pull out of Malaysia continues among the younger generation as they see injustice through their education and observation of the slow progress made by Sarawak compared to the West Malaysian states. How does the Federal Government approach development in Sarawak?
- By giving budget based on population or
- Giving allocation based on land size.
There are other ways of approaching the allocation
- on needs basis, to close the developmental gap
- based on Sarawak's financial contribution to the national coffers
If you look at roads system for rural sarawak, take Kapit, Belaga and Upper Baram as examples - the amount of money that the government earned from timber royalty and sales duties would amount to many billions. This money could be used to build high priority roads in the following areas:
- Kanowit-Song-Kapit Road
- Bakun-Belaga road
- Miri-Marudi Road
Where does this money go to? These rural folks can only see the natural riches but are not enjoying it. Traveling through timber roads is really a life risking effort and we should not accept those poor road conditions as part of our overall misery because our natural resource riches should be used to improve our living.
Oil and Gas
We must not continue to accept the 5% royalty given to Sarawak as oil and gas resources are depleting fast. In the first place, the state government of Sarawak needs to share with us how did the government spend the 5% royalty money which averages about $1 billion a year? Hopefully it is not used to fill some politicians' pockets or used to pay for development to meet the Chief Minister's ego - Kota Semarahan and Mukah as examples. An annual $1 billion ringgit is substantial but we do not seem to see the result of the money spent.
This money should really be used to build Sarawak's future through better educational support - improving the level of education across our Sarawak society. Many people from poor families are still not able to further their studies or receive enough direct educational training/ learning effort from the government.
Looking at the land premium collected by state government in the Auditor General's 2007 report much improvement could be made from this source of income. Such improvement could be from raising the premium of land itself. The premium paid by plantation and tree replanting companies are still on the low side no matter the reason used to substantiate current rates.
Electricity from the Bakun dam is for West Malaysia to keep them competitive in the manufacturing and services centre. In Sarawak, there is very little development now and therefore the Government is banking on a dirty industry like aluminium smelting to spur the economy on. The government is also banking on SCORE to improve the long term economy of Sarawak through coal mining which is not sustainable. If we talk about renewable energy then we should talk about solar energy, and are we talking about that? This SCORE is designed to further enrich well connected companies. For Christ's sake, can’t the super rich politicians for once not think about their personal benefit and concentrate on improving the lives of ordinary Sarawakians?
Our decision to “give away” our share to the Federal government is really bad and has had long term side effects. We know that Sarawak is trying to get back some share, but how and why did this happen in the first place? Is there at any point in time we own “assets” that are produced in West Malaysia? After all that, we talk about building more dams - destroying our forest and ecological system - unnecessarily and far ahead of time.
The Federal government owes it position now to rule Malaysia to Sabah and Sarawak providing BN with a comfortable majority. In response the Federal government did not even bother to act on Sabah and Sarawak's request on issues important to them, leading SAPP to pull out of Barisan Nasional. The Dayak representation in the Federal cabinet is a sore point till now. The BN government sees it fit to demand for Sabah and Sarawak's support but does not see that it is their responsibility to ensure that the vast gap in socio-economic development is rectified as soon as possible.
Allocations to improve Dayaks in the economic field is maybe non-existent, unless DCCI receives such allocation for revolving capital for Dayak businessman to expand their business. I am not sure whether the provision of money to be given to those rural folk with outboard engines and generators has actually been given out. Tan Sri Jabu should give an update on this progress as the money should have been given to Sarawak as he was the one who seemed to be in charge of the distribution of the fuel subsidy.
Welfare support for old age
Dr Yen Yen announced that every eligible person should get it. This is not true either. From my place in Sebauh and those long houses I have visited recently, nothing much has changed. The Welfare Department continues to say they cannot approve new application as they do not have the money. The people cannot be bluffing or telling lies but the government should enlighten the people on the status of this scheme to help old and disabled folk.
UMNO has no interest to bring progress to the Dayak
UMNO is still not interested to assist the Dayak and expects the Dayak MPs to be loyal to BN. UMNO really cannot depend on Dayak loyalty without question for too long. Patience is wearing thin for Sarawak Dayak and we have sacrificed a lot without reciprocal benefits. The rich UMNOputras are crying out for more contracts and money and the Dayak are a non entity to them.
The BN Federal has been given many opportunities to improve the state of affairs in Malaysia but they have not done it. The Law Minister has even resigned out of frustration as UMNO people themselves do not want to see change.
The BN leadership also change the rules ever too often that we Malaysians do not know whether we have a “rule of law” or of a few politician's whim and fancies, example Syed Hamid and his ISA (to protect the safety of the reporter Tan). Did he think in the first place that Malaysians have no brains?
$1 billion bonus after PJU12
Many in Sarawak are wondering what has happened to the $1 billion that was promised to Sarawak. It was explained that it is going to be managed by the Prime Minister’s office. Hopefully, the Prime Minister has time to do some work for Sarawak instead of trying to keep his position.
The Federal government and State government need to be transparent and explain where all this money goes to as it is pretty easy to say that $1 billion is given but it does not actually take place. When that happens, then we want to know that the government has actually delivered on its promise.
BN - is it relevant?
This question is left to BN and particularly UMNO to answer. If the present trend of “denial”, “rejection of the voice/feedback” from the people continues BN would be heading towards an early exit.
For a start, many people feel that “frogs” jumping to PR is not the right way of doing things. When the country is in such a bad shape economically and politically, the government should go back to the people through another election as soon as possible to determine the future of Malaysia.
The power transition in UMNO is not following the normal process as the TGA is the only platform for that. This is another example of “changing the rules” by the UMNO leadership. If “frogs” jump, that is also changing the rules but look who started all this “rule breaking” first?
BN cannot remain relevant when its leaders refused to make the necessary changes. In the process there will be chaos in the country and the population will get very confused with the direction Malaysia is taking. All this is happening due to weak leadership and lacking the will to change by the leadership.
Are we going to allow that this country go to the dogs because of personal interest in the top leadership of the country? Is it acceptable by us that a weak leader is trying to stay in power to fill his personal ego and pockets? Can we be proud of the governance of this country when the “rule of law” is changed to suit the personal convenience of its leaders?
From Dayak Baru Weblog