Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

100 days in office

KUCHING: Senior Minister (Infrastructure Cluster) Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof has just completed 100 days of his second term as Works Minister since he was appointed on March 10, 2020.

His appointment into the federal Cabinet led by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was seen as recognition to Sarawak and further strengthened the state’s position in fighting for Sarawak rights.

Fadillah made it clear that his appointment was a huge trust that he has to shoulder for the sake of the people.

Fast forward to 100 days later (June 17), Fadillah described the period as challenging but he was still grateful of how cooperative Malaysians have been which led the newly-formed government to be able to brace through the movement control order (MCO), conditional MCO (CMCO) and now recovery MCO (RMCO).

“This is possible under the leadership of our eighth Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his cabinet members who were appointed amidst the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in an interview yesterday.

On his part, Fadillah explained that he was heavily involved in the meetings to address the Covid-19, especially during the MCO phase, which was initially held on a daily basis, as well as being present at the National Security Council (MKN) special meeting on Covid-19 chaired by the prime minister and also the Economic Action Council meetings.

Q: What is your primary focus as the Senior Minister of Works throughout these 100 days?

Fadillah: Other than the Ministry of Works, there are five other ministries placed under the Infrastructure Cluster: Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Environment and Water, Ministry of Housing and Local Government, Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. I am responsible to chair The Ministerial Meeting for Infrastructure Cluster, while the Infrastructure Cluster Working Committee meeting is chaired by the secretary general to the Ministry of Works.

The Ministerial Meeting for Infrastructure Cluster is the most crucial meeting for the cluster as it plays a big role in policy-making, planning as well as the development of Malaysia’s infrastructure. The meeting also serves as a platform for resolving administrative and management issues across ministries and government agencies. The cluster system introduced by the government is to coordinate all ministries with the same policy and direction so that no overlap of functions occurs.

Q: Your achievements within 100 days of leading the Ministry of Works?

Apart from launching the ‘new normal’ standard operating procedure (SOP) for the construction industry, the Ministry of Works has allocated an additional RM782 million for Federal road maintenance across the country, activating the Highway Privatisation Committee to review the direction of private initiative projects, implements new project proposals and quick-win projects under the infrastructure cluster. It also reviews the implementation method of the Pan Borneo Highway and road development projects in Sabah and Sarawak and re-activates the ‘Zero Potholes’ vows involving all the district JKR engineers. In line with the current situation, we have launched JKR Small Project voting online to help aid small contractors. After being re-elected to lead the MoW, the ‘RakanKKR’ initiative was reactivated to provide a platform for public complaint which also acted as the government’s eyes and ears.

Q: The Ministry of Works is also responsible in ensuring the country’s economic status can get back on track, especially for the infrastructure sector. What are the incentives or aid provided by the government to ease the burden of industry players?

The government has introduced several incentives for the contractors to reduce the impact of the MCO due to Covid-19. This was done through the Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) where the incentive includes providing cash flow assistance through SME Bank for G2 and G3 class contractors. RM2 billion is allocated for these contractors that were awarded small contracts for the purpose of workforce enhancement programs to increase unemployment as well as utilising local workers to build new skills such as Building Information Modelling (BIM).

In addition, there is also a CIDB Prihatin Initiative that provides a deferment of levy on private sector projects from Jan 1 to May 31, 2020, as well as the relaxation of contractor registration requirements by exempting the Continuous Contractor Development for new registration from April to December 2020.

Q: Hundred days in office, Datuk Seri has been mandated by the Prime Minister to jointly chair the MA63 Committee. Perhaps Datuk Seri can share on this matter?

On May 8, the Sarawak government and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) reached an agreement to negotiate a resolution on oil and gas and taxation on petroleum in Sarawak as announced by the Prime Minister. The solution is the country’s economic, financial and social long-term approach. In this regard, a Joint Committee on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) was formed and chaired by me and the Finance Minister Senator Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz. The first meeting was held on June 17 where Sarawak was also represented by the Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali.

As announced, the Prime Minister said the resolution would provide the Sarawak state government with a joint involvement in the development of the Petronas oil and gas industry in the state, without changing Petronas’ role as a national oil company.

Q: How did Datuk Seri assists in helping Sarawakian students in Semenanjung, Sabah and Labuan during the MCO period?

Rumah Sarawak in Kuala Lumpur and Sarawak Volunteers were directly involved in ensuring that Sarawakians have access to food supply during the MCO. Both Rumah Sarawak and Sarawak Volunteers were then involved in bringing back Sarawakian students to their hometown with joint effort from the Ministry of Education (MoE), Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), Ministry of Rural Development (KPLB), Ministry of Transport (MoT), Ministry of Human Resources (MoHR), Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) and Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

As the Patron of Sarawak Volunteers, I continuously brought up relevant issues during the ministerial meeting on MCO. Having a committed team has made it possible for us to bring back a total of 9,668 Sarawakian students home.

We are currently assisting to bring teachers back and have successfully attained a reasonable airline tickets price. The flights to bring teachers will commence operation on June 19 and 20, 2020.