DEBATE SPEECH BY ALI BIJU, ADUN N34 (KRIAN), ON THE MOTION TO RESPOND TO THE SPEECH BY THE TYT GOVERNOR, DUN 20-29 MAY 2013.
Datuk Speaker Sir,
I rise to join my honourable colleagues in this dignified and noble House to draw your attention to how the Tuan Yang Terutama’s speech would be well reciprocated within the context of the constituency I represent, Krian with the following issues.
No 1. The Condition of Rural Primary Schools in Krian.
“THE YOUTHS OF TODAY WILL BE THE LEADERS OF TOMORROW” is the maxim we are all well aware of. And yet, this precious investment of ours, the young minds that need nurturing, is not well taken care of. Pupils are crammed in depilated classrooms where they have to endure an uncomfortable environment that is not conducive to learning. Pupils’ and teachers’ furniture need overhaul. Learning materials are scarce and pupils often have to share learning tools just in order to complete their class projects. Contrast this with pupils in schools in the urban centres and cities. It is a far cry. How are we going to expect our rural children to progress on par with their city cousins if this is allowed to continue?
Their teachers likewise have to endure issues of their own. One major issue is that many teachers have to commute daily from Saratok town to schools situated in the rural interior simply because of the insufficiency of living quarters. With the appalling conditions of rural roads in Krian, it compounds the harsh daily life of teaching at rural primary schools. Teachers commuting daily have to fight small battles on the way to school even before arriving at their destination. Is this how we treat our educators? Are there no funds to build extra teachers quarters in one of the richest states of Malaysia?
Nevertheless, what is most disheartening is the state of the boarding houses for our young minds. Do the honourable members of this most dignified House know and realise that, for example, the very young pupils at Sekolah Kebangsaan Brayang, are forced to even share mattresses in their tiny boarding rooms? Are the young children of our honourable members forced to live like sardines in a tin can? If we in this noble House will not allow our own children to suffer such shocking living conditions, how can we close a blind eye to our rural relatives’ children to live in such despicable and dire conditions in the interior? Is it not shameful for wealthy and resource rich Sarawak to close a blind eye to this endemic problem throughout the state, let alone Krian?
If you are shocked, allow me to shock you further, my honourable colleagues. Are you aware that the quality of food has drastically declined in the past two years for rural boarding schools? The vast majority of rural primary school pupils are boarders, as we know. It has come to my attention that the ration provision for rural primary schools Category A has been reduced to RM8 person per day. Let me break it down so you know exactly how much a pupil is entitled to: Breakfast RM1.20; Lunch RM2.40; Tea Break RM1.00; Dinner RM2.40; and Supper RM1.00. Would you feed your growing child RM8 per day.However, the question on my mind is how much exactly trickles down to the tables of the pupils after the suppliers and contractors have taken their cut for profit? RM5 ringgit perhaps, and is this what we are spending on feeding our rural pupils on a daily basis?
Inflation and the increase in food prices only mean that our rural children are fed very poor quality food. We do not need scientific data and research to tell us all that the nutritional value of meals for young and growing pupils is vital for their health and growth and ensuing academic performance. And yet the Ministry of Education has reduced the much needed food rations for rural schools! I would like the Ministry of Education to conduct a study into this blatant disregard for the health of Sarawakian pupils in the interior, and give us a reasonable explanation as to why the need to reduce the ration, instead of increasing it in the light of the economic downturn and rising cost of food supplies, when the people who need it most are made to suffer unjustly.
2. Section 6 and the Ambiguous Perimeter Survey.
To many honourable members across the floor of this House, the contentious issue of Section 6 and the equally debatable policy of ‘Perimeter Survey’ may seem superfluous and redundant. Nevertheless, we on this side of the floor will not desist from engaging the current Government on this matter. Notice that I use the term ‘policy’, and not ‘law’.
Case in point: the Tuai Rumah of Sungai Bangkong was strongly advised by the Penghulu of the area to sign paperwork to agree to have a vast area of native customary right land lands in the Krian constituency to be surveyed and gazetted under Section 6 of Sarawak Land Code. However, there are many native land areas called pulau galau within Krian constituency includes such places as Sg Ijan Kabo , Melupa, Babang, Mapar, Ulu Krian-Rimbas. The Tuai Rumah adamantly refused. The Penghulu is still insisting that the Tuai Rumah sign the papers. This blatant act of compelling the Tuai Rumah is tantamount to suggesting that ownership of native customary right lands lies in the hands of the Penghulu and not the people who live and depend on the same land for their livelihoods. But that is not the prime issue at hand.
The question I pose to this dignified house is simple. Is the pulau galau of Sg Ijan Kabo, Melupa, Babang, Mapar, Ulu Krian-Rimbas, recognised by the Sarawak State Government as Native Customary Right Lanad, or once surveyed under perimeter survey and place under Section 6, revert to becoming de facto State land? The entire native residents and descendants of these areas are very concerned and worry of the implication resulted from perimeter survey initiative. It is a simple question, and I expect a simple answer from the Government. I repeat, is PULAU GALAU, once surveyed together with other lands under Section 6, still native customary right land or does it become State land by the virtue that the State can claim the land and has the sole prerogative over it? Let us not forget that the Courts of Malaysia, right up to the Federal Court, have decided clearly on the matter, but my question is, what is the State’s position on this very crucial legal point, as the residents of the affected area and their future descendants, would very much like to also know the answer to this question. In fact, the entire natives of Sarawak would also like to hear the response of the State.
3. Rural Electrification Scheme (RES).
At the May DUN Sitting of 2012, the Minister had solemnly promised that the State would undertake to resolve a vital issue of the Rural Electrification Scheme set up to cover the areas of Ulu Awik and Ulu Kabo, which includes and affects twenty five longhouses and 3 rural primary schools, namely SK Nanga Apan, SK UluAwik and SK Lempa, which I had earlier brought up in the previous DUN sitting.
The issue herein is that SALCRA has refused to cooperate by allowing transmission lines to be erected along the roads and have its oil palm trees cut down. Can the Minister update this dignified House specifically when will the State rectify this matter and over-rule SALCRA’s defiance? Again, I return to the issue of our rural pupils suffering unnecessarily at the expense of unreasonable commercial interests. Three primary schools have to depend on electric generators. What is the State’s priority; commercial interests of the few or the development of the rural interior?
Whilst we are on the subject or RES, may I also ask the Minister when the government will bring RES to other areas in Krian constituency such as Kop-Ibus, Ulu Sebetan, Beratong-Supok, Sungai Kara, Munggu Embawang, Sungai Belong and Tanjong Sikup?
4. Clean Water Supply and the construction of the Saratok Water Treatment Plant at Kaki Wong.
The new water treatment plant being built at Kaki Wong is a good step by the State to bring clean water supply to Saratok. The questions at hand are four-fold: Firstly, what is the progress of works on the construction and when can we expect the plant to be fully completed? Secondly, if there is any delay to the completion of works, will there be a penalty ‘LAD-liquidate and ascertained damages’ imposed? Thirdly, what are the plans of the State to upgrade the old piping system which will not be able to withstand the stronger water pressure that will be generated from the new plant? And finally, the situation is more acute in the town area of Saratok where shop-houses and the surrounding residential areas are experiencing water shortage even though water supply is sufficient. A thorough study needs to be conducted to remedy the existing problematic old piping system in order to solve the persistent overall water issues faced by the residents, as well as the entire Krian which has been promised clean water supply by the Minister in the DUN Sitting of May 2012.
5. Road Infrastructure.
The constituents of Krian would like to know the following:
5.1 The on-going upgrading work that is being carried out to tar-seal Ulu Krian and Ulu Awik Road is taking much too long. Is the current work progress delayed or ahead of schedule? What is the actual work scope namely the actual length of Ulu Awik and Ulu Krian Roads to be tar-sealed under current contract? Is there close monitor of the work being carried out by the contractor to ensure compliance with standards and specifications as per the contract?
5.2Engkudu-Sungai Anak Road was tar-sealed for only a mere and paltry 750metres recently. The road users would like to know when the remaining 5.5km will be tar-sealed? Heavy vehicles from plantation companies nearby are using the road extensively and this is already causing damage to the gravel road.
5.3Rumah Ibi, Nanga Ibus, is unique since it is the only longhouse in N.34 Krian which does not enjoy the connection of an access road. The longhouse folks have to use small longboat down the Sungai Seblak to access Roban, the nearest town. Sungai Seblak is notoriously infested with crocodiles. Three successive Earth-Breaking ceremonies have been conducted but to date, no road is in sight. Is bovernment going to keep its promise or let the matter be quietly swept into the crocodile infested Sungai Seblak?
5.4 Other roads that need upgrading are Bajau Road, Nanga Batang Road, Babang-Krangan Rusa Road, Nanga Alum Road, Mudong Road and Sungai Engkabang Road, and the constituents of these areas await with bated breath for a reply.
6. Rest Area at SimpangSaratok.
It is commendable that FELCRA has developed the Simpang Saratok Rest Area. The up-grading included new facilities for food stalls. Nevertheless, I would like to point out that all the stalls cater only halal food. This does not address the more pertinent need to cater for motorists and drivers who rest there seeking non-halal food. Thus, I urge local authorities to develop extension rest area in adjacent to the existing specifically to cater for the need of non-halal food among motorists. This initiative is expected boost further the popularity of simpang saratok rest area.
Datuk Speaker Sir. With these rebuttals to the Tuan Yang Terutama’s speech, I take my leave and rest my case. Finally I would like to wish Selamat Gawai Dayak, gayu guru, gerai nyamai, chelap embap, nguan menoa.