Barisan Nasional’s desperation in wanting to stem the Pakatan Rakyat alliance momentum to take over Sarawak in the April 16 state election has opened a Pandora’s Box.
The Barisan Nasional is getting trapped in its own web of deceit by claiming credit for what little progress Sarawak has made and deriding the efforts of Pakatan in the state.
The hollow promise that the BN has always had the welfare of Sarawakians at heart is falling on deaf ears. The people are all too aware of the gimmicks BN undertakes each time there is a by-election or a general election.
Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Muyhiddin Yassin challenged the opposition pact to eradicate poverty in Sarawak, saying BN has spent tens of billions of ringgit to end poverty in the land of the Hornbill.
In mocking Pakatan’s RM1 billion promise in its manifesto, Muhyiddin said:
“We not only implement… we are committed to development programmes and when we compare the two manifestos, we can see what they (the opposition) are championing and what we (BN) are fighting for. The people should be more sensitive, we don’t do anything indiscriminately but we do things based on the policy of continuous development.”
The deputy premier dismissed Pakatan Rakyat’s RM1 billion Poverty Eradication Fund to assist poor families and said it was a part of Pakatan’s political ploy.
Coming from Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, this is a strange position to take as BN government has never given priority to education and other basic needs of the people in rural Sarawak.
No electricity for 50 years
The BN has kept some kept the residents of Kampung Long Lamai in Hulu Baram in the dark for a long time. They have been living without electricity for 50 years. The children of Kampung Long Lamai have to resort to generators to study while all work comes to a standstill when its gets dark.
It has been reported that almost all villages in the Baram area have been existing without electricity for 50 long years. Their only of power is the diesel-powered generators but the church and community hall gets first priority. The rising price of diesel has also curtailed the use of the generators.
With the BN government not the least moved by the villagers plight, several non-governmental organisations are helping by utilising solar power to generate electricity. And thanks to the solar power panels donated by the Japanese government and maintained by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, the e-Lamai project has brought a smile to the long suffering Kampung Long Lamai residents.
Can Muhyiddin or Taib explain why in spite of the many rivers in the Hulu Baram area, no effort was made to harness hydro power. The villagers were left to their own devices to build their own mini-hydro to supply them power. Is this BN’s idea of progress?
BN’s agenda not people’s welfare
In an effort to further demean Pakatan, Muhyiddin said Pakatan Rakyat’s RM200 “one-off” payment to every primary school pupil entering year one was also lower, than the free education provided by BN to primary and secondary school students, costing about RM5,000 each.
Speaking of free education, why has BN abandoned the educational needs of pre-schoolers in Sarawak’s rural areas? Whatever happened to the RM111 million allocated to Permata Negara founder, Rosmah Mansor under the 2010 Budget?
Last year Dalat assemblywoman and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Fatimah Abdullah said 298 primary schools were without pre-school classes. She added that by 2012, all 1,266 primary schools in the state would have at least one pre-school class.
Sarawak PKR woman chief, Nurhanim Mokshen said it was hard to understand Fatimah’s claim that there was a problem with rural pre-school education.
Nurhanim said this showed that the ministers at the federal level were not doing enough to solve this problem. She queried where the RM111 million allocated to Rosmah Mansor’s Permata Negara programme went.
Permata Negara, which targets children below the age of five, has shown no interest in helping Sarawak’s rural children. Worse still, Rosmah, who is wife of prime minister Najib has gone on record by saying that under the plan to empower the Permata programme nationwide this year, national childcare centers will be set up in three parliamentary constituencies in all states except Terengganu and Sarawak.
Don’t underestimate the new kid on the block
The BN government is very fond of deriding Pakatan Rakyat, calling it all sort of names and undermining its ability to administer the country. But the Pakatan Rakyat is taking all these in its stride and has kept its feet on the ground.
Pakatan has quietly gone about indicating what laws and policies it wants changed in the country and this has ruffled BN’s well-oiled feathers.
Take for instance the news that Najib will launch the 1Malaysia boat clinic in Marudi on April 14. Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the boat clinic was Najib’s brain child to improve health service in the rural areas.
Money has been thrown in, courtesy of 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a company fully owned by the government, which spent RM1 million to buy a boat for the service.
Perhaps the Sarawak election has created uncertainty and fear in the BN government as they have suddenly “awakened” to the needs of the people.
It took Najib two years after becoming PM to realise the health needs of the rural folks in Sarawak.
And now Muhyiddin expects Pakatan Rakyat to perform miracles in eradicating poverty in Sarawak.
This perhaps shows BN’s grudging respect for Pakatan Rakyat’s tightening grip on the state.