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, Tuesday): Sarawakians must use this historic opportunity of the coming general state elections by supporting DAP Sarawak 12 candidates to protect their standard of living, protect their rights to enjoy their natural resources and protect democracy. These three protections are necessary to ensure equal opportunity for all voters in wealth creation and equitable wealth distribution.
These elections is not only about punishing Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud for 25 years of misrule that allowed abuses of power that benefited the few at the expense of the rich. There is too much at stake for Sarawak to allow BN to win all 71 seats or zero opposition in the Sarawak State Assembly.
Only by voting for a strong opposition as a check and balance to the BN government to uphold freedom, democracy, justice, integrity and human dignity. For too long the people of Sarawak has allowed BN unfettered, unrestrained and limitless power to do what they like at the expense not only of democracy and justice but also the welfare of Sarawakians.
Sarawak’s 892,537 voters have to decide whether democracy, justice, freedom, integrity and human dignity would be served if there is zero opposition. For too long, development projects have bred rampant corruption resulting in Sarawakians being marginalized economically.
Tan Sri Abdul Taib expressed pride yesterday in the per capita GNP of RM 21,000 for Sarawak. Let me ask how many Sarawakian household earn RM 42,000 a year or RM 3,500 a month when the poverty level has worsened. The recent 30 cents fuel hike has only imposed a heavier burden on the hardships and difficult livelihood faced by the people.
That Sarawakians have to pay higher fuel prices than those in West Malaysia is unfair and unacceptable when Sarawak is one of the oil and gas producing states that allows Malaysia to be an oil exporter. Why should Sarawakians continue to pay higher prices than in Peninsular Malaysia? Learn from the DAP where our Rocket newspaper is sold at RM 2 the same price as that sold in Peninsular Malaysia.
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 under the 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 reasons behind 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, have the interests of Sarawakians at heart by speaking up for the plight of Sarawakians in Parliament and the Sarawak State Assembly.
Chiew Chin Sing and Chong Chien Jen have highlighted and exposed so many financial scandals in the State Assembly and Parliament. Amongst them is the RM 300 million new State Assembly building and the RM 243 million Kuching Prison scandal that is still uncompleted since it was started under the Seventh Malaysian Plan in 1977.
Spending RM 300 million to build a State Assembly that is hardly used does not make sense. 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 12 candidates for Sarawak led by DAP Sarawak Chair Sdr Wong Ho Leng who are young idealistic, talented and sincere in serving the people for public good and not for private benefit. These are the future leaders of Sarawak and DAP urges the people to support them to seek political equality and socio-economic justice.
DAP reiterates the social responsibility and moral obligation to distribute Petronas profits to needy Malaysians as such oil revenue belong to Malaysians. Petronas has earned RM 500 billion for the past 31 years which would work out to more than RM 20,000 for every needy Malaysian. Why have we not got a single cent of this RM 20,000?
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 1974? 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 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 an historic opportunity for Sarawakians not only to improve their living standards, reclaim their rights to enjoy their natural resources and protect democracy. It will also give Sarawakians an opportunity to articulate their unhappiness together with other Malaysians unhappy with the fuel price hike and the manner our oil resources are handled.