'Even a kampung road in Peninsular Malaysia is much better than our Trans-Borneo Highway and the successes of Felda, Felcra and Risda make us feel jealous,' said a BN MP from Sarawak.
KUCHING: Kapit’s Barisan Nasional MP, Alex Nanta Linggi has warned the BN government that it may lose its rural areas if nothing is done to help the people.
Speaking during the debate on the royal address in parliament, Nanta said the rural areas in Sarawak, including Kapit, are considered fixed deposits of the Barisan Nasional.
“But the fixed deposit does not mirror the real situation in the rural areas in terms of development.
“Kapit is one of the remote areas without road linking it to other towns in Sarawak. I don’t want to pretend to give a glowing picture of Kapit, because development is not there.
“All the development promises like the construction of a trunk road are yet to be implemented.
“It is sad to say that in this rich state, poverty is the hallmark. It appears to be a permanent feature even though Sarawak has been independent for more than 40 years,” he said.
Short of blaming the federal government, Nanta who is the grandson of the late Tun Jugah Anak Barieng said that the authorities gave so much emphasis to the rural development in Peninsular Malaysia at the price of Sarawak’s people.
“Even a kampung road in Peninsular Malaysia is much better than our Trans-Borneo Highway. Again the successes of Felda, Felcra and Risda make us feel jealous.
“We are in the same boat – BN boat, and yet projects in Peninsular Malaysia can be implemented successfully, whereas in Sabah and Sarawak our projects are always met with failures,” he said, pointing out that there must be political will to develop the two states.
No such thing as ‘not affected’
Nanta went to say that Sarawak has several mega projects including the construction of 12 hydro-electric dams to be implemented under Sarawak Corridor Renewal Energy (SCORE).
“Three of the projects have been built – Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum hydro-electric dams. And under construction are Baleh and Baram hydro-electric dams.
“Bakun dam can produce 2,400MW of electricity whereas Batang Ai can produce 90MW. All these dams upon completion are able to produce 20 million MW.
“They will bring billions of ringgit to the nation and to the state as well as the contractors.
“The question is: how about the local people in and around the areas? It is true that the aim of constructing all these dams is to develop industries, but the welfare of the people should not be neglected.
“I call on the federal government which is the financer of the projects or as the approving authority to ensure that 55% of the funds for these projects should be used to develop the socio-economic well-being of the people, ” Nanta said.
He citing as an example the Kapit (Baleh) hydro dam being built at Sg Putai off Sg Baleh in the Hulu Rajang parliamentary constituency.
“Officers involved in the project explained to the people that they were not affected by the dam project. That is true because the longhouses are situated below the dam on both sides of the Baleh River.
“It is easy to say that they are not affected. And thus nothing should be planned for them. And let them alone there.
“(But) Billy (Billy Abit Joo, the MP for Hulu Rajang) and I have received a lot of complaints. You must remember that water from Baleh River passes through hundreds of longhouses and villages on both sides of the river.
“The local people are aware that millions and millions of (ringgit in) incomes will be generated from the Baleh dam. Various types of industries will come up as the electricity rate is cheap.
“However, I am worried that the industries will be sited at Baleh itself. These big industries or projects will not benefit the local people as all employment will go to outsiders,” said Nanta.
Help natives with farms
He urged the government to set aside some funds to help the local people develop their rubber, pepper, oil palm and fruit trees gardens.
“I think this will be the best deal for the people as long as the authorities can ensure ready markets for their produce.
“If this is not done I am afraid these longhouses will become de-populated as they move to towns like Sibu, Bintulu and Peninsular Malaysia.
“Their migration to towns and cities will affect the BN fixed deposit in the rural areas, and with money politics so rampant, we should be concerned that we may lose in these areas – our fixed deposit,” Nanta added.