Monday, June 2, 2014

The mystery of Susan Balang and price hikes

 | May 30, 2014
More questions have risen following the sudden naming of a point-of-sales shop owner in the Upper Baram logistics controversy.

Longhouse SerawakMIRI: The name Susan Balang has mysteriously popped up on the radar following the controversy over exorbitant prices of fuel and essential items in Sarawak’s rural interior, especially Long San in Upper Baram, and the ‘missing’ transporters appointed to deliver government subsidised goods and fuel.
State Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (MTDCC)’s Kuching director Stanly Tan told FMTBorneoplus that the Susan Balang Post is one of the point-of-sales (POS) approved to sell subsidised goods.
“The transporter has delivered the goods into Long San on May 24. We have the pictures and the invoice as proof that the goods have arrived.”
“The village of Long San has indeed sent out a request to replenish the stock and we have already done so.”
“The POS in Long San are Susan Balang and Nyah Ibuh.”
However, despite the assurance of Tan, a news report on May 26 revealed that villagers in Long San had in fact not received any of the promised goods.
FMTBorneoplus has yet to receive the the pictures and invoice at time of publishing despite requests to Tan.
Former Baram District councillor Anthony Lawai Karing claimed that not only did the village failed to receive the goods, but they were also unaware of which were the appointed companies handling the transporters.
The announcement of Susan Balang Post as a POS as such is sudden and shocking, said Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How.
“Susan Balang is the daughter-in-law of Karing. It is impossible that she has already received the goods while her father-in-law is voicing out the problem of the lack of merchandise.
“Besides that, she was only aware of the appointment of her shop as a POS three days ago when Tan announced it via the press.
“The request for her post (to be appointed as) as a POS was submitted a long time ago.
“(But suddenly amidst the controversy) it is only now that Balang has gotten a confirmation.
“This means that her shop is not among the (original) 2,141 POS released in the list that was revealed by MDTCC,” said See, who had earlier this year sent in a written request during the State Legislative Assembly sitting for the names of the appointed transporters.
Secrecy and contradictions
But the list was not released. The secrecy shrouding the list has given rise to speculations of fraud and cronyism.
A source close to transporters’ issue reportedly said that “most” of the transporters appointed were “shell” companies with no knowledge of the terrain and route into interior Sarawak.
In which case is Balang being made a scapegoat for the logistics mess?
Meanwhile MTDCC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur when contacted about the list of transporters said “only Sarawak knows” the names.
“Any policies regarding the release of the (transporters’ name) list lies in the hand of Sarawak,” said the MTDCC officer, who decline to be named.
But Tan has denied this and passed the buck back to MTDCC.
He claimed that to release of names the transporters, he needs clearance from federal-level MTDCC.
“We (are in the midst of) recompiling a new list within these two days due to the addition and termination of transporters the last month.
“We will complete the task as soon as possible,” Tan said.
~ Free Malaysia Today

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