GE15 is just around the corner!
Well, even if the general election does not take place soon, it would be good to revisit some issues in the context of Sarawak. We should take stock of some past behaviours and actions or lack of actions of the opposition in Sarawak.
Perhaps some of you might remember the dramatic promises made by the opposition in the Sarawak State Assembly. The PH’s much-vaunted manifesto, the Buku Harapan, with its promises encapsulated in five pillars, was waved around with much zest by the ADUN for Kota Sentosa before GE14.
After the PH victory in GE14, only Baru Bian (Minister of Works) and Chong Chieng Jen (Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade) from Sarawak were appointed to the federal cabinet.
I believe this is the lowest number of Sarawak representatives in the federal cabinet ever. This was already a sign of bad things to come for Sarawak.
Subsequently, their Buku Harapan promises under the fourth pillar on Sarawak rights; 20 per cent oil royalties and 50 per cent tax collected from Sarawak to be returned to Sarawak, never materialised.
In fact, despite having a Sarawakian as the PH Minister of Works, we saw a vast number of federal infrastructure projects in Sarawak being cancelled or stalled.
One small example in Miri City was the much-needed road widening project to alleviate traffic congestion at the GK roundabout. According to Datuk Sebastian Ting, before GE14, the previous federal government had approved RM12 million for the project.
He expressed disappointment that due to the change of the federal government at that time, this project did not proceed. It was scheduled for completion in 2019. To this day, the congestion is causing much distress to road users.
The PH government had also cancelled the Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security Complex (ICQS) in Tebedu. A new Tebedu health clinic and construction of the Tebedu Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) station were also cancelled.
These are just a few reminders of the disadvantages Sarawak faced under PH.
Moving on, in a recent court case, the High Court quashed the previous finance minister Lim Guan Eng’s decision in 2019 to reject Sarawak Energy’s unit, Baleh Hydro Power Generation Sdn Bhd’s RM10.9 billion investment tax allowance claim.
Hydroelectric is one of the sources of clean and sustainable energy necessary for Sarawak’s growth and development.
Lim apparently believes that the Baleh hydroelectric project was not a project of national importance as justification for his rejection of the company’s claim. I suppose all things related to Sarawak and its people were unimportant to the PH government.
Lim is also the one who, at that time, stated that Sarawak would soon go bankrupt. This, I presume, was an effort by him to discourage the Sarawak government from investing in the growth and development of Sarawak using its own funds and financial reserves for the betterment of Sarawakians.
In a recent statement, Piasau assemblyman Sebastian Ting, who is also the SUPP secretary general stated that these “huge savings will undoubtedly be used further to develop Sarawak for the best interest of the people”.
He further stated that most Sarawakians were shocked and unhappy with the alleged mistreatment by the previous Pakatan Harapan government and DAP Finance Minister Lim. He also questioned the silence of the Sarawak DAP leaders and their inability to protect the best interest of Sarawak and its people.
Going into GE15, be it sooner or later, we as voters in Sarawak need to remember the many unfulfilled promises and actions by PH that undermined and harmed Sarawak.
We also need to remember the many actions by the Sarawak government led by our Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg and his team to sustain and uplift Sarawak during these challenging times.
Some political pundits are stating that the GPS Sarawak government might be able to get 28 out of the 31 parliamentary seats in Sarawak. This would be an increase of 10 from the current 18 GPS MPs.
However, Abang Johari is keen on making a clean sweep of all 31 seats. This would give the Sarawak government an even stronger voice in parliament.
With the Premier’s already strong track record of reclaiming Sarawak rights on an ongoing basis, it would be prudent for Sarawakians to deliver these 31 seats to GPS.
The euphoria after GE14 was short-lived. It would be sensible to avoid the disappointment many felt after the 22 months of the PH government and its resulting instability. Many have felt let down by the now opposition MPs in Sarawak.
We, as voters, ought to reward good performance, not those who give false hopes.
After all, making the right choice would make Sarawak a better place for ourselves and our family.
The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune.