PMS: Rural S’wak risks being left further behind by federal cutbacks

We want bigger share from Malaysia…. Bolhassan gestures while stressing a point. He is flanked by PMS deputy president Bujang Boji Sitam (right) and secretary-general Abang Hadera Lee.

KUCHING: After 55 years of Malaysia existence, rural development in Sarawak is at risk of being left further behind if the federal government’s austerity drive sees a reduction in allocation for treated water, power supply, roads and Internet connectivity development projects in the state.

Persatuan Melayu Sarawak (PMS) president Datuk Bolhassan Di stressed that in this regard, the Sarawak government under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) must continue to fight for the rights of the state.

“Sarawakians must rally solidly behind Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in our fight to get what is rightfully ours as stipulated by the Federal constitution,” he told thesundaypost yesterday.

He said if the current federal administration is truly people-centric, it must prove it by giving Sarawak larger allocations for rural development compared to its predecessor.

“Sarawak is still very far behind (Peninsular Malaysia) after 55 years. Try compare rural Sarawak and rural Peninsular Malaysia – there is a big contrast. That is why Sarawakians are not happy; we have our oil and gas worth billions but we receive just small portion (in royalties) of it.

“That is why we at PMS wholeheartedly support the state government’s policy in enforcing the Oil Mining Ordinance 1958 to get fair value from our natural resources in order to get back the rights of Sarawak that has been eroded,” he added.

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Bolhassan insisted that GPS must not back off from the fight for a bigger share of the country’s economic pie, especially when Sarawak contributes so much in terms of oil and gas revenue to the national coffers.

“GPS policies must focus on what was started by the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem, which was getting back Sarawak rights. They need to try get optimum allocations from the federal government for the needs of Sarawakians.

“Malaysia is now 55 years old, but where are we (Sarawak, in terms of development)?”

Touching on Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s recent announcement that Budget 2019 will be a ‘belt-tightening Budget’, Bolhassan urged the federal government to look beyond economic indicators when dealing with the rural populace.

“We don’t know the details yet (of Budget 2019), but we hope this Budget will benefit all the people, especially the rural populace. We don’t want to see a Budget that will benefit certain sectors only,” he added.

The former state assistant minister also hopes that the current administration continues whatever good policies initiated by the previous federal government, such as the repairing of dilapidated schools in Sarawak.

Bolhassan noted that during Dr Mahathir’s recent visit here, he had stated that the state was doing well under proper planning by the Sarawak government.

“Mahathir was very happy with what is happening in Sarawak. I am not being biased, but I think Abang Johari is one of the most hardworking leaders in the country. He has got a lot of ideas which are good for Sarawak in the long term.”

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When asked what will be PMS priority for the Malay community, he said they will be working on programmes for early childhood education and coding class for the younger generations.