James Masing

KUCHING: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has told Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) to direct its passion and request to the correct ministry.

He said this in replying to PSB questioning why the cabinet paper on absorbing retrenched workforce is confined only to Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU) workers.

Masing, who is also Minister of Infrastructure and Ports Development, is drafting a cabinet paper on absorbing some of the retrenched LBU workers into his ministry.

He said PSB has to understand that the Sarawakian workers retrenched under LBU are the direct effect of the federal government’s decision to terminate LBU contract. 

James Masing

Masing explained that because of the termination, the federal government under the Ministry of Works Malaysia has appointed the Ministry of Infrastructure and Ports Development, Sarawak to take over the monitoring job on Pan Borneo Highway project. 

“As a minister in charge, my job is to reduce the impact caused by the termination made by the Ministry of Works, one of which is retrenched Sarawakian workforce previously under LBU which is confined under the construction and infrastructure sector,” he said.

Hence, he said the spokesperson from PSB needs to understand that a minister is in charge of making and implementing decisions on policies confined to his or her ministry. 

“That is why the government has different ministries headed by different ministers. I have been appointed as Minister of Infrastructure Development and Ports and not “Minister of Everything Sarawak”.

“Timber industry or labour issues in general are under other the purview of a different ministry,” he explained.

He said while PSB’s enthusiasm is appreciated, their passion should be directed to the correct ministries.

PSB had described the cabinet paper proposed by Masing as a ‘knee jerk reaction’, that “it betrays his narrow vision of the job market in the state”.

PSB said Masing should be looking at the unemployment situation in Sarawak.

PSB in a statement said while it sympathised with the retrenched LBU workers and would support all efforts to find them jobs, it felt that Masing should also look into the plight of thousands of other Sarawakians who had lost their jobs in recent years, especially those in the timber industry.