Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Speed up talk on education autonomy – See

October 25, 2017, Wednesday

See (centre) gestures during the press conference. He is accompanied by PKR women national vice president Voon Shiak Ni and PKR Stampin branch deputy youth chief Jeffery Mok.

KUCHING: Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How has urged Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and the state government to hasten the negotiation process with the federal government for the devolution of power with regards to matters concerning education in Sarawak before talking about the building and renovation of dilapidated schools, most particularly those in the rural parts of Sarawak.

See, who is state PKR vice chairman, opined that there must be a review on the packages in the building and renovation of dilapidated schools to ensure proper and effective monitoring, transparency and accountability in the projects so that they are carried out without excessive costs, and that the construction work must be completed and delivered on time.

In this regard, See said the long delay in the completion of SK Pulau Seduku in Sri Aman must be thoroughly investigated and audited. The delay of SK Pulau Seduku project that worried the parents was highlighted by Borneo Post Online on Oct 23 (www.theborneopost.com/2017/10/23/further-delay-of-sk-pulau-seduku-project-worries-parents/)

“The SK Pulau Seduku construction project was part of a package involving the building, renovation and extension works of seven schools in Sarawak, using the pre-fabricated Industrialised Building System (IBS) in a contract worth RM28.5 million, directly awarded to a public company in Peninsular Malaysia in April 2016.

“In the case of SK Pulau Seduku, the building of the six-classroom boarding school with facilities to accommodate 12 teachers and 26 students was earlier scheduled to be completed by October 2016 and extended to January 2017. The contractor was also a Peninsular Malaysia-based company,” See told a press conference here yesterday.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was personally involved in the supposedly fast-tracked IBS projects, to deliver the projects in weeks and months.

“Without the necessary transparency in these directly awarded designed and built contracts, it appears that these projects are more costly and the buildings may not be lasting. The Sarawakian sub-contractors are the ones who have to complete the projects, but only paid a fraction of the contract sum. These were the raw deals that Sarawak has been stuck with.”

See stressed the state government must insist that the allocation for the projects to rebuild, renovate and extend dilapidated rural schools be given to the state to administer, manage and supervise to ensure timely completion.

However, he said the state must put in place the necessary safeguards for transparency and accountability in the administration and management of the projects, adding that to ensure that the allocations are better utilised to complete more school rebuilding and renovation projects, the projects should be awarded through open tenders.

“Surely, with sound architectural and engineering advice, we can standardise the designs and for better use of a more sound IBS technology which will cut costs on the whole, to avoid unnecessary costs and leakages. Do we really need RM6 million to RM8 million to build a six-classroom school with necessary facilities in Sarawak?”

Additionally, See said the state Education Department must engage other state departments to ensure efficient project consultant management and have sufficient technical staff to supervise the implementation of the projects.

“It is necessary for the local divisional education offices and the local elected representatives to be vigilant and bear responsibility for the completion of these projects, to report any delay or stoppage of works to the relevant department and agencies.

“In the case of SK Pulau Seduku, it can be seen that many federal and state ministers and local elected representatives were helping in concealing and obscuring the delay in the project completion.”

See said: “We have to be mindful that our children in the rural areas deserve a safe place for their studies, with the necessary facilities, and in the case of SK Pulau Seduku and those alike, safer to attend and return from school. We must avoid the project delay which will compromise their safety and their learning.”

In view of this, he said the state government must devise a blueprint to institutionalise these changes to ensure better implementation of the projects.

“The transparency and accountability in the management and implementation of the projects are of utmost importance, to show that we are deserving of the fiscal autonomy in the federal government devolving more powers to Sarawak.”

~ Borneo Post

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