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(Kuching, Saturday): DAP calls on the Federal government to increase the petroleum and gas royalties 3 times from the present 5% to 15% to help Sarawakians enjoy the benefits of their own oil resources and alleviate the sufferings of Sarawakians. DAP regrets that the Sarawak government headed by Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud has failed to fight for Sarawak rights and Sarawakians affected by the fuel price hike despite Sarawak being the major contributor of Malaysia being a gas and oil exporter.
Instead Tan Sri Abdul Taib is proud that Sarawak was allocated RM200 million from the oil subsidy savings of RM4.4 billion following the 30 cents in fuel prices to spend on improving its public transportation system and another RM20 million more to buy fuel for rural areas. Such pride is a great disservice to Sarawakians as this RM 220 million to alleviate the impact of the fuel hike is only 5% of the RM 4.4 billion and half of the RM 440 million sought by Sarawak last month.
Is RM 220 million sufficient and fair for Sarawakians to reduce their financial burden as a result of the fuel hike and they have no control over their petroleum revenues and how it is used. The time has come for Sarawak to break the 5% barrier imposed by the Federal government. Unless Sarawakians demand for greater rights especially increasing its share of petroleum royalties 3 times to 15%, Sarawak will be seen as only worth 5%.
This neglect of Sarawak can be seen not only in the poor infrastructure, high incidence of poverty and the reduction in allocation funds under the Ninth Malaysian Plan.
Sarawak was allocated RM 12,817 million in development funds or 7.5% of the total RM 170 million 8th Malaysian Plan (8MP). Such development funds were reduced from 7.5% to 6.7% under the Ninth Malaysian Plan(9MP) when Sarawak was given only RM 13,437 million out of the RM 200 billion in total development funds. If private finance initiatives of RM 20 billion are included RM 15,108 million out of RM 220 billion was given to Sarawak or 6.8%, still 10% less than was given under the 8MP.
Why is there a reduction of 10% in allocation funds for Sarawak under the 8MP and 9MP and more importantly the failure of Tan Sri Abdul Taib to fight for Sarawak rights when Sarawak has contributed so much to petroleum revenues. Sarawak should get an increase in development funds of much more than 10% when according to the 9MP, its incidence of poverty is high at 7.5% compared to only 3.8% in Peninsular Malaysia. In fact the incidence of poverty in Sarawak has almost doubled from 3.8% in 1977 to 7.5% in 2005.
For Tan Sri Abdul Taib to agree to a reduction in the development allocation for Sarawak under the 9MP when poverty has worsened shows that DAP is more qualified than BN in fighting for fairer share from the Federal government. Only DAP MPs, especially Kuching MP Chong Chien Jen and Kidurong ADUN Chiew Chin Sing, has the interests of Sarawakians at heart by speaking up for the plight of Sarawakians in Parliament and the Sarawak State Assembly.
The people should assert their rights as “bosses” by electing wakil rakyats that serve them instead of bullying them like servants, wakil rakyatas that speak up about their problems as well as and defend Sarawakian interests in Parliament and the State Assembly instead of paying “gaji buta” for keeping quiet during meetings.
Say “No” To Corruption By Punishing
BN And Voting For The DAP
Chong Chien Jen has highlighted and exposed so many financial scandals in Parliament. Amongst them is the RM 243 million Kuching Prison scandal that is still uncompleted since it was started under the Seventh Malaysian Plan in 1977. Building a RM 243 million prison for 650 inmates means almost RM 380,000 per inmate, enough to buy a bungalow in Kuching. This luxury prison is another example of corruption and wastage of money where every prisoner in the country will seek a transfer to such “expensive’ surroundings.
The time for Sarawakians to firmly say “No” to corruption by punishing the BN and voting for the DAP. DAP has introduced an excellent slate of candidates for Kuching who are professional lawyers, female and young such as Chong Chien Jen, Violet Yong(f) and Voon Li Shan. These are the future leaders of Sarawak and DAP urges the people to support them to seek political equality and soci0-economic justice.
DAP’s commitment to Sarawakian rights is not mere rhetoric. In fact DAP became the first Malaysian nation-wide political party to promote and guarantee Sarawak special rights by enshrining it in our party constitution. At our last Party National Conference that amended the objectives of DAP, one of the clauses contained the following:-
“to promote national integration with Sabah & Sarawak, recognize their special rights and infuse a national spirit and unity amongst all races to forge a common identity of a united Malaysian Malaysia”
DAP reiterates the social responsibility and moral obligation to distribute Petronas profits to needy Malaysians as such oil revenue belong to Malaysians. For 2004 financial year ending 31 March 2005, RM 35.5 billion in Petronas profits would amount to RM 1,500 per person or RM 9,000 per year for a needy household of 6 persons. For the latest financial year, Petronas profits would amount to RM 2,000 ringgit per needy Malaysians who are not well-off, more than enough to offset the rise in petrol price at international prices.
If a non-oil exporter like Singapore can give S$2.6 billion (RM 6 billion) cash under the 2006 Budged this year to all Singaporeans, especially the poor, why can’t the Malaysian government do so when Petronas has earned nearly RM 500 billion since its inception in 1971? Oil importer Singapore has given $10.675 billion (RM 24 billion) directly to its people since 2000 as compared to Petronas which has not given a single cent.
The natural question that both Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Tan Sri Abdul Taib must answer is how come neither Sarawakians nor Malaysians can not get a single cent directly from the RM 500 billion oil revenues whilst Singaporeans without a single cent of earning from oil revenue can benefit from RM 24 billion these last 5 years?
Clearly it is important that Malaysians and Sarawakians seek accountability and economic justice from BN to prevent all our oil revenue from being misused by the select few. This coming Sarawak state elections is the opportunity for Sarawakians not only to speak up for themselves but all Malaysians unhappy with the fuel price hike and the manner our oil resources are handled.