Why are Sabahan and Sarawakian leaders, especially those from Barisan Nasional (BN), silent on the recent announcement made by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak regarding the Taman Tugu project, which costs RM650 million? Wasn't that money supposed to be channelled towards Sabah’s and Sarawak’s development, especially in the rural areas, since both states happen to be BN’s ‘fixed-deposits’?
Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem appears to be raising a lot of concerns with the federal government, starting with Petronas and now school funding. He has promised, in the last election, that he will do wonders for Sarawak if BN obtains two-thirds majority. But we believe, ultimately, he is just enhancing his popularity without jeopardising his position.
With the election truly over, perhaps he now realises, along with other Sarawakians, that Sarawak has been left with crumbs.
Adenan said that he is “sick and tired” of requesting for more federal funding for Sarawakian schools. The fact is, many Sarawakians are sick and tired too, as they believe much of the demands are just a show or ‘wayang kulit’ as Sarawak BN still maintains overall support for Najib.
He and other Sarawak BN leaders know to point their finger at peninsular Malaysia for any shortcomings at home, but in reality, they do little or say nothing in Parliament to fight for what belongs to Sarawak. They have no guts to demand it up-front from their master, Umno.
The federal government is going ahead with a RM650 million Taman Tugu project in Kuala Lumpur. How many standard schools can be built by using those funds? Although Sarawak and Sabah boasts major contributions to the national gross domestic product (GDP) through oil, gas and energy sector as well as the palm oil and rubber industries, many rural schools in Sabah are still made of bamboo while in Sarawak, we still have a lot of old wooden schools.
In June, a primary school collapsed into a river in Spaoh, Betong due to poor condition of the school structure and this month, another primary school caught fire in Bario and was completely destroyed before the UPSR examinations.
Just imagine, if we had already obtained 20 percent oil royalty as promised by Adenan two years ago, we would have able to build more standard schools for Sarawak. Sarawak should already have larger, institutionalised and systematic funding to build standard schools. Sarawak should not have to beg the federal government for school funding. Funds are to supposed to be channelled for Sarawakian education regularly, not intermittently.
Sarawak BN always blames peninsular Malaysia for the state’s economic woes while at the same time making huge promises which they cannot achieve. It is not just our schools that are far behind in development; Sarawak BN’s understanding about the current federal government is also half a century behind.
Umno-BN is interested to keep Sarawak less developed so that it can treat Sarawak like a vassal, which Umno seemingly rewards with scraps when it is in the mood, but is ignored the rest of the time.
While an increased number of Borneo parliamentarians were appointed ministers and deputy ministers since 2008, have the Sabah and Sarawak voters experienced significant improvements in infrastructure and quality of life in the past eight years?
The answer is no.
The truth is that only Sarawakian BN politicians get entertained with higher positions and rewards, while the rakyat are also entertained, just only with ‘wayang kulit’.
ABDUL AZIZ ISA MARINDO is special assistant to the Sarawak DAP chairperson and Petra Jaya DAP Socialist Youth publicity secretary.