Dr Hazland Abang Hipni

KUCHING: Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) appears to reject the development of rural areas and denying the people who desire and need such development.

Demak Laut assemblyman Dr Hazland Abang Hipni said this was evident since the party’s president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh and vice-president Johnical Rayong Ngipa opposed the construction of the Second Trunk Road.

Dr Hazland said that the construction of the Second Trunk Road was aimed at ensuring that rural areas had good transportation network and would therefore increase their socioeconomic level.

“If the Second Trunk Road is halted, it would not only hinder development, it would also disrupt the transport network in Sarawak which was planned by the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government which prioritises the people, especially those in the rural areas” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said that if the PSB leaders were questioning the RM6bil construction cost, the long-term plan should be considered – towards the enhancement of the people’s socioeconomic circumstances and income as well as the indirect contribution to the state’s economy.

“Also, do those in the rural areas agree with the proposal to stop the project? The answer is surely no, because for a long time the people have wanted to experience development – as what is championed by GPS with the slogan ‘rakyat diutamakan’ (people first),” he said.

He said that the state government’s announcement regarding the construction of the Second Trunk Road, a connection to the coastal road, had received positive reactions from the rural folk.

At the same time, Dr Hazland said that the connection of the Second Trunk Road and coastal road was much needed as this would link Sebuyau to Lingga/Sri Aman and Betong while also shortening the distance between Kuching, Betong and Sibu.

“In Demak Laut, for example, the construction of Jalan Tanjong Embang-Bliong and Buntal-Bako is part of the coastal road connecting areas in the outer regions of the town.

“Jalan Tanjong Embang-Bliong and Buntal-Bako will connect recreational and tourism areas between Santubong and Bako National Park,” he said.

He added that most of the people living in rural areas were fishermen and farmers who required a good transport network to market their produce to the urban regions.

According to him, the construction of the Second Trunk Road and coastal road would also open up development opportunities and increase the value of property, which was much needed to enhance the socioeconomy of the local people.

Earlier, Wong had issued a statement calling for the Second Trunk Road to be cancelled, describing it as redundant. This stance was also supported by Rayong.