Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem's pledge to focus on rural development indicates that the rural areas have been neglected for the past 50 years, said Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian.
"The truth (of neglect) is now admitted and conceded. At least this Chief Minister has the courage to admit," he said.
Adenan, who took over as CM in February, said that his administration planned to give this matter strong emphasis.
"It is high time we stop helping the rich and instead help the poor. It is high time we put emphasis on rural development," Adenan was quoted as saying in Miri yesterday.
Under the previous administration, the emphasis was on industrial development, timber industry and dam construction which activists argue did not benefit the rural people.
Speaking toMalaysiakini, Baru(right) said that Adenan’s speech is a "good starting point" but the most important thing is to translate that to action.
"Hopefully more allocation will be given to rural Sarawak," said Baru, who is the Ba'Kelalan assemblyperson.
'Show us the money'
Meanwhile, commenting on the same issue, DAP Serian chief Edward Andrew Luak said it is yet to be seen whether there will be emphasis on rural development as pledged by the Chief Minister.
"It has been decades that the BN government has promised rural development, but why is it that after 50 years of the formation of Malaysia rural development for Sarawak is till forthcoming?
"Road network to rural areas are still not much better than before, and many areas especially in the Baram and Rajang areas still depend on riverine transport," said Edward, who has served as development officer in Miri and Limbang.
He also questioned how the government intends to spur development in the rural areas in the absence of basic infrastructure.
Using helicopters would not only be very expensive, but very unpractical, he said.
Edward also questioned whether the state government will fund the rural development.
"If so, let us see how much will be approved in the next budget for rural development?
"Too often our leaders have been promising development projects when there is no allocation of funds approved.
"These are empty promises which the rural people just accept not knowing that they merely baits to garner support," he said.
He said that politics of development of the previous government failed to bring development to the rural areas.
"Instead it made the few rich richer and the majority poor poorer," said Edward, pointing out that even the chief minister agreed that this must stop.