Friday, November 25

Dayaks working abroad

The issue of Dayaks working in Peninsular Malaysia has become a hot issue during the winding-up speech by Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud on Wednesday afternoon the last day of the sitting of the Dewan Undangan Negeri.

Let us read what transpired during the debate between the Chief Minister and the leader of the Opposition Wong Ho Leng, who is also the Member for Bukit Assek. (The following are the unedited version):

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud:

We have to concentrate on manpower development to ensure that all Sarawakian can be properly trained so that they can get good jobs which spare a few thousand dollars a month. The benefits of SCORE will be distributed to the rakyat according to the degree skills they have. The degree of their willingness to work, the degree of their mobility, their ability to adept, their ability to cooperate and their willingness to learn on the job and be really focused when they undertake any job and not deviated by some other agendas.

No Fear of Creating Too Many Jobs

Tuan Speaker, some Honourable Members of the House fear that the government is creating too many jobs. We should not be afraid of creating too many jobs. Our concern should be to make sure that these option jobs, so that when we grow, we do not victimize those who cannot cope with the change.

We have to bring them together so that they can undertake better skills. And when we do develop even in some elements of cross subsidy in the way we pay our labour will take place like developed countries. But, the proportion of people without skills cannot be too big otherwise the economy will sink with the subsidy. The more jobs that we can create in Sarawak the greater is the chance that ordinary Sarawakians especially those in the rural areas can earn a decent wage and live a good life that modern society can offer today.

Sarawakians Working Abroad

In an open economy like ours, it is inevitable that these are to happen. Sarawakians working abroad in search of better life not only for jobs, it’s a natural privilege of people living in an open economy. Many have been trained overseas and they have seen another way of living which they may initially find refreshing and wish to try.

I know that there are also many Sarawakians working abroad who longed to be at home but could not because their focus is now establishing financial independence. These are personal choices that people are free to make. I do not know where some people try to say that 100,000 Dayaks have migrated to Peninsular Malaysia and that we are being accused of exporting good jobs and importing people with low pay. I don’t think this is a, I don’t know how the figure comes up. But if the Dayaks are today consist of 700,000 people; it’s not easy to get 1:7 the population working somewhere else without draining your labour supply.

Moreover, this is not the export of people, export of people doing higher jobs. There are people who want to try to work in Peninsular Malaysia. Averagely their skills are lower and they do not run away because they got better qualification. It is for them, of course, to decide where they want to work. Some Dayaks have been very well. Okay. I hope it’s relevant.


Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: Tuan Speaker, thank you very much and thank you, Yang Amat Berhormat. The issue of 100,000 Dayaks working in Peninsular Malaysia.

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): It’s not 100,000 where do you get your fact in the first place?

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: I am just trying to elaborate.

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): No, no. Get your fact correct first.

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: I am just trying to elaborate, give me... (Interruption)

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): That maybe 1/7 of the Dayak population going out. And if you add on the family become 250,000. I don’t think that Dayaks have migrated that much. I think you have missed calculated your figure... (Interruption)

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: Do I have a chance to speak or not?

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): Okay, do you admit that you are miscalculated the figure?

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: No, I don’t. That is the reason I’m telling you.

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): Okay.

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: The basis of my figure.

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): You had miscalculated your figure. You admit it now.

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: In Johor 40,000... (Interruption)

Tuan Speaker: No, no. There is no more clarification, it’s an argument. No.

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): I give you a chance. I tell you your figure is wrong.

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: (Inaudible).

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): You said 100,000 in your speech. Yes, what is your authority? What is the authority for the Honourable Member for saying that? It is look ridicules

Tuan Speaker. It is look ridicules if 100,000 workers are going to Semenanjung then the total of Iban going out there will be 250,000. 250,000 out of 700,000, that is a serious thing that cannot go unnoticed.

Tuan Speaker: You put forward what you want to clarify. You don’t use that to argue and create an altercation otherwise I am not allow. Proceed Yang Amat Berhormat Ketua Menteri.

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): I sit down. I hope what you are going to say it is sensible.

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: (Inaudible)

Tuan Speaker: No, under 33(b) I disallow... (Interruption)

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): If you explain the basis of what you have said of 100,000 I’m willing to listen. If not, you must admit it is wrong.

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: Tuan Speaker, my question is very simple. Let say Yang Amat Berhormat doesn’t agree with the figure, there is a large number I am sure a large number of Dayaks working in Johor, in Klang Valley. Now my question is, let me tell the question. What strategies, I am talking about the strategy now. What strategies Yang Amat Berhormat implement to make sure these Dayaks or non-Dayaks, those anak-anak Sarawak come back to Sarawak to work instead of getting brain drain from Sarawak.

Tuan Speaker: Okay, alright.

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: It’s a very simple question.

Tuan Speaker: No altercation.

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: Ya.

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud): Okay, Tuan Speaker, now the Honourable Member has not clarified himself no tells the basis of his 100,000. For that, if you are honest enough please admit you are wrong. (Applause)

Y.B. Encik Wong Ho Leng: (Inaudible)

Ketua Menteri dan Menteri Kewangan dan Menteri Perancangan Sumber dan Alam Sekitar (Y.A.B. Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Bin Mahmud): Make that and proof it next time, next session and I bet you cannot do because it ridicules 100,000 in a family of five will involve a migration of 250,000. Nobody has gone out, out of Sarawak for 250,000 to migrate. That is pure imagination on the Honourable Member’s part, correct. Don’t make accelerated statement as you can see I am going to reply. You indirectly to show we have created more jobs that are in higher paying rank than exporting them out. You listen, you listen.

It is worthwhile for me Tuan Speaker, to emphasis at this juncture that this government in our development strategy has been constantly transforming the Sarawak economy. As a result, even the last 20 years have seen significant economic structural change as the evidence from the data for employment by industry. You check that data and use it as your basis for any criticism in the future.

Don’t come in manufacture and its figure that is not justifiable. The share professional and technical workers rouse from 5.2% of the total employment in 1980 to 13.3% in spite of increase in population in 2010. This means that the number of professional and technical workers employed in Sarawak rouse from 23,800 people in the year 1980 to 165,000 people in the year 2010.

The structural change in the economy implies a significant change in the skill set as well as mindset required for the transformation to take place. The labor market is fluid especially in the current globalize world with the internet, advance communication and low budget air travel.

The mobility of the Sarawakian around the world is a good sign that Sarawakian are capable of quick adaptation in the modern world. Because of this demand called the modern life, it is inevitable that we must quickly transform the Sarawak economy and society further through SCORE so that we can modernize Sarawak even more and build up the core of skill and professional worker taking the advantage the potential plan under SCORE.

Rural poor mounting attack on unscrupulous Telcos

Despite DAP Serian’s highlighting of the burden and inconvenience caused by giant Telcos with regard to the unscrupulous charges they made on pre-paid services, no support seemed to have been received from the very leaders who opposed the imposition of the 6% service that the Telcos wanted to impose effective 15th September 2011 including BN Federal leaders.

The pre-paid mobile users were relieved when the Minister for Information, Communications and Culture Minister announced on 12/9/2011 that the Telcos agreed to defer the 6% service tax.

What actually happened was a nightmare to pre-paid mobile users. It became a burden and inconvenience to them.

Their hope now is hoping that this matter be highlighted, hoping the authorities will act and protect them. They came to DAP service center in Serian, one after another, each day to complain.

Now they are dismayed upon learning that they are being deducted very much more for services that they should not at all be paying.

This came to light when the users found out that every top-up amount they made were used up in a very short period of time. The validity of their top-up credits was also shortened. This means that even though there is credit balance in their phone the line cannot be used because the validity period has expired.

Previously a major Telco company charged 09 sen for any call that is auto-replied, unreachable numbers or engaged numbers. The user is charged even if he cuts the line in a matter or a second or two. Since 16th September 2011, it was found that this charge was increased to 28 sen. Another major Telco even increases the charge to 36 sen.

Actually these calls should not be charged at all. It’s a matter of no service provided. The line is unreachable or engaged or the other end doesn’t pick up the phone, so there is no service provided.

DAP Serian made a simple calculation on the statement made by the Minister regarding the service tax that these major Telcos were paying to the government in the past 12 years.

He said that since 1998 to 2010, a period of 12 years, the Telcos paid to the government a service tax amounting to RM6b on pre-paid taxes alone. Everyone knows the major service providers are Celcom, Digi and Maxis.

The Minister further said that all in all, there were 26 million customers. If a major player is having a third of the users that would be 8.5 million. And if half of these are using prepaid services, actually more is estimated, that translated to 4 million prepaid users.

If we are to imagine that a third is paid by any of these major players in the past 12 years, that translates to RM2b. Divide that amount by the number of months in the past 12 years, each Telco pays the government RM1.38m per month for the pre-paid users as service tax.

Let’s calculate how much they rake in by charging just 09 sen for unanswered calls, engaged lines or unreachable numbers. If a user buys a credit of RM10 and was charged for 10 calls, that would amount to RM0.90. Multiply that with the 4 million users that would amount to RM3.6 m per month.

This is nuts compared to the RM1.38 million that they pay as service tax to the government. Why are the Telcos saying that they have been over generous by paying on behalf of the users when in fact they are reaping much more from the customers? With the increase to RM0.28, they are certainly raking in more than three times the amount. What a scam.

A parent who used to top up RM30 for two week usage found his credit finished in just four days. Another user who used to purchase RM10 complained that his credit was used up in just two days. Connectivity in the rural areas is poor which causes a lot of computer general replies and they are charged.

Another matter that annoys the prepaid users is the validity period of their credit top-up. For a top-up of RM5, the validity is just two days. Parents used to purchase RM5 for their children and they expect to use the credit to call towards the weekend. But they can’t use their credit anymore. For a RM10 top-up, the validity is 6 days, meaning that the line cannot be used the following week.

Prepaid mobile users are hoping that the authorities put a stop to all these ill-treatment. They would like the Telcos to extend their top-up validity to at least a week for a small top-up and two weeks for a RM10 top-up. The pre-paid users are mainly the poor and students.

Edward Luak

DAP Serian

24 Nov. 2011

Wednesday, November 23

Ali Biju expresses concerns on perimeter survey

KUCHING: The much touted perimeter survey is not only confusing the native landowners by the intention of this new initiative but it is also worrying them over the long term legal implications, said Ali Biju, Krian assemblyman.

“Section 6(1) of Land code mentions that any area of state land may be turned into Native Communal Reserve. However, all of the land surveyed now is NCR land.

“Does NCR still exist inside the Native Communal Reserve?

“What might happen to the NCR land outside the perimeter survey?

“Is it going to be the final survey? What is the status of 'pulau galau' and 'pemakai menoa' under this new initiative?” Biju asked during the debate on the state budget.

He quoted Section 6(3) of the Land code pertaining to Native Communal Reserves which clearly states that ‘any such land shall continue to be state land, and the native community for whose use it was reserved or any members thereof acquiring any rights therein shall hold the same as a licensee from the government, .... the issue of any document of title in respect thereof shall be in the absolute discretion of the Director’.

“In plain language, Native Communal Reserve is in actual fact state land,” said Biju.

He said that Section (4) states that if the Minister satisfied that any area under Native Communal Reserve is required for public purpose, that area to be resumed by the government and compensation to be paid as confirmed by honourable minister.

“However, does the government compensate affected natives for their trees, crops and dwellings? Is it possible to register agro-based business entity using Native Communal Reserve as an official address?” he asked.

Biju said that as a result of these confusions, native landowners still prefer their land to remain NCR land as it is now, pointing out that perimeter survey does not enhance the value of NCR land.

“What the native landowners really request for is that their NCR land be surveyed directly under Section 18 of the Sarawak Land Code, not Section 6.

“A good example is the big area of NCR land of the Iban community at Entebu/Selambong/Muton area which was excluded from Lots 489 and 480 Block 18 Awik-Krian Land District gazetted as Native Communal (Agriculture) Reserve (Swk. L.N.50 dated 29.3.2011.

“The government must clarify whether the NCR land outside the Communal Reserve is state land or NCR land,” Biju demanded.

The perimeter survey was initiated just before the State election to survey all NCR land belonging to the natives with an initial fund of RM20 million.

Later another RM60 million was added to the fund.

So far 27 areas in every division had been surveyed, and 30 more areas to be covered by the end of the year.

It is reported that there are 1.5 million hectares of NCR land throughout the state.

Tuesday, November 22

Penans to be caddies?

KUCHING: Is there any possibility for a Penan whose is wearing only his traditional dress being engaged as a caddie to such personality like Tiger Woods?

This could be possible if the government agrees to a suggestion by Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau to open up a golf course in the Penans’ territory in Baram in order to give them employment opportunities.

The suggestion was made by Ngau when he talked about woes faced by the natives of the Baram in the absence of basic amenities, infrastructure and economic activities in the area.

“This golf course will be part of the effort to increase the value-added of the tourism sector, and with the expected improvement of the road system in Baram soon, the setting up of the course will definitely provide employment opportunities to the locals,” Ngau said when he debated on the state 2012 budget.

Pointing out that a big chunk of the development budget goes to among others tourism development, Ngau said: “I would like to urge the relevant ministry to look into the request from the people of Ulu Baram who have identified places of interest to be developed as tourism products.

“Definitely Baram is very rich with tourism products, but very poor with supporting facilities such as good roads and other related facilities.

“The absence of these facilities makes tour packages become too expensive thus make it (tourism) unmarketable,” he said.

“As part of the effort to increase the value-added of the tourism sector, and with the expected improvement of the road system in Baram, I urge the government to encourage the private sector to open up a gold course in the area,” he said.

“The opening of the course would give the locals (Penans, Kayans and Kenyahs) job opportunities,” he said.

Currently the people in his constituency depend on rivers and jungles as their major source of food, pointing out that hunting and gathering of jungle produce are still the way of life.

“Rivers and jungles had acted like freezers to them in those days, but today there is an alarming drop in all types of fish and animals,” he said, urging the government to create a Penan communal land or Penan Reserve land, where they could still practise their traditional way of life.

Commenting on Ngau’s suggestion (to build golf course), Baru Bian, Ba’Kelalan assemblyman and Pakatan Rakyat’s shadow minister for Land Development and NCR land affair branded the suggestion as very ‘na├»ve’ to have a golf course in the interior of Baram.

“Once you destroy the forests and vegetation you also destroy the habitat of the animals.

“Secondly, the fertilizers they use to maintain the golf course is detrimental to marine life,” he said, pointing out that the course would not viable and beneficial ecologically speaking.

“It is so expensive to maintain the course and who would go and play? And how many people can get a golf course employment. 100? That will not solve the employment problem,” he said.

Bian suggested that to open up work opportunities other options should be considered for example the ecotourism like introducing home stay and the planting of different kinds of cash crops.

“Construction of roads to the interiors would open up the place too. This will encourage people to go back to their longhouses and take up their NCR land for farming,” he said.

For a golf course with 18 holes, its length should be between 5,000 and 7,000 yards and it needs at least an area of 150 hectares.

The cost of building the course depends on the type of course the government wants and the type of land where the course it is to be built.

Such a golf course may cost several hundred millions of ringgit.

Ngau did not point out exactly where the course could be built, and if it is in the Telang Usan valley it will be submerged under water when the proposed Baram dam is completed.

The dam which is about the size of Singapore is expected to drown between 70 and 80% of the NCR land.

It is projected to cost more than RM3 billion.

Bian hoped that Ngau is not serious with his suggestion.

SDNU: Don’t convert Dayak children

KUCHING: Sarawak Dayak National Union which is the biggest Dayak organisation with a membership of well over 100,000 calls on the government to look into allegations of rural Dayak children being converted into Islam.

“We want the government to put a stop to it, because it is not healthy for the country where one religion is trying to patronise each other,” said Dr. John Brian Anthony, Deputy President of the Union.

Brian was reacting to statements made by Baru Bian, Ba’Kelalan assemblyman and Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau made during the debate on the state budget on the alleged attempt to impart Islamic teaching and practices to non-Muslim children in some Kemas and government pre-schools in the rural areas.

Bian had received complaints from parents that their children in Kemas and government pre-schools in the rural areas have been receiving Islamic teachings and practice.

And there was a real attempt at imparting the Islamic teachings and practice in such schools and wanted the government to investigate, he said.

The BN assemblyman for Telang Usan told the members of the state assembly that he too received similar complaints from parents.

He agreed with Bian that the government should seriously look into the complaints.

Brian said: “We have heard that Muslims teachers including Ustaz have been sent to the rural areas where they are Dayak children.

“As there are no Malay children, who are going to learn, if it is not with the intention of converting the poor Dayak children to become Muslims,” he said, pointing out that in Sarawak, there is no official religion.

“Yes in Malaysia we have Islam as the official religion, but in Sarawak we don’t have. So we have to respect each other.

“Once you have embraced Islam, dress like a Malay and speak the Malay Language, you are Malay. I think this is a political reason.

“We Dayaks in Sarawak must resist this attempt. It interferes with our rights.

“We want the government to look into the matter and put a stop to it.

“It is not going to be healthy for the country,” Brian said.

Meanwhile, in May this year, several quarters have voiced concern over religious teachers from Peninsular Malaysia being imported to Sarawak.

Among those who expressed such concern was the President of Parti Rakyat Malaysia James Masing who said that thousands of teachers including ‘religious counsellors’ would be transferred to Sarawak especially to the rural areas.

Sharing Masing’s concern was Sarawak DAP Secretary Chong Chieng Jen who said that Sarawak must oppose these teachers from being imported to the state, especially after what they saw happening in Peninsular Malaysia.

“We don’t need West Malaysian teachers who are extremists to influence our children,” he had said.

Thursday, November 17

Islamic teaching in rural schools, Bian expresses concern

16 Nov 2011

KUCHING: Sarawak parents are concerned over subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices to children in pre-schools in the rural areas, said Baru Bian, Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman.

Debating the 2012 budget, Bian, who is Sarawak PKR chief said: “Many rural areas are predominantly Christian, and there is a very real problem of subtle attempts at imparting Islamic teachings and practices in pre-schools.

“There are reports from parents of school children that their children come home from school and recite the Islamic ways of praying at home.

“From my own constituency of Ba’Kelalan, I have personally received reports of such incidents that happened to children from two families,” he said.

According to news reports, the KEMAS director general Datuk Abdul Puhat Mat Nayan said that beginning 2010, KEMAS established 539 new pre-school classes and will open another 2,000 new ones.

Last year, KEMAS opened 150 kindergartens in the state and for this year, they have set up 300 more to increase the accessibility to early childhood education.

Bian said that the people are concerned that these pre-schools are staffed by teachers from outside the local community and worst if they come from Peninsular Malaysia, the majority of whom are Muslims.

“Added to this concern is the news that KEMAS schools will be taking on the PERMATA syllabus, as announced in Sabah in July this year by National PERMATA programme patron Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

“I was informed that one of the subjects in the PERMATA curriculum is Islamic teachings in class.

“Can we be guaranteed that all non-Muslim children be exempted from these classes or lessons?

“What are the steps taken by the state government to ensure that teachers of different faiths do not impart or teach their beliefs to the children of different faiths or beliefs in these Tadika or Pra-Sekolah in the state?” asked Bian.

He said: “I propose that local teachers from the local community be recruited to teach in these Tadika or pra-sekolah to avoid any conflict of religious beliefs.

“Secondly, I propose that allocations should be made to NGOs and religious organisations to start or support their own Tadika or pre-schools to reflect our support of imparting knowledge to all notwithstanding their racial or religious backgrounds,” Bian said.

On the teaching of mother tongue, Bian asked the government that there be an official budget every year allocated for the teaching of languages of all the different races in Sarawak from pre-school to Primary Six level.

“The loss of our people’s mother tongue is a serious threat and the precursor to the loss of our culture and identity. The preservation of our languages must be given priority or our people will slowly lose their unique and distinct cultures.

“With the common incidences of inter-marriage between different races in Sarawak, this request needs immediate implementation, “ said Bian, pointing out that it is viable that funds, which are allocated to KEMAS or Permata, can be used to train teachers to teach their local languages or dialects.

Wednesday, November 16

State budget has ‘black hole’, says DAP

KUCHING: The state government’s 2012 budget as announced by Chief Minister and Minister of Finance Abdul Taib Mahmud on Monday has a big ‘black hole’ that sucks in everything, said Chong Chieng Jen, DAP state assemblyman for Kota Sentosa.

Chong who is also Sarawak Pakatan Rakyat’s shadow minister of finance was referring to an allocation of RM1.7 billion out of RM3,263 million development fund towards approved agencies trust fund.

More than 50% of the development fund go to these ‘faceless’ agencies which the Opposition had wanted to know in the past few years.

“Nobody knows what these agencies are? And I have been asking the same question for the past few years as to which agencies are using these funds that have repeatedly appeared in the State Development Expenditure allocated to the Ministry of Finance.

In 2007, the allocation under this heading was RM1,257,000,000, and in 2008 it was increased to RM1,719,083,100, and 2009 to RM1,825,061,000.

For 2010, the fund went down to RM1,072,409,800, and this year it went up again to RM1,416,475,000.

For next year, the government’s contribution towards the approved agencies trust fund has been increased to RM1.7 billion.

Chong said: “Despite the large sums being allocated to this item in the budget year after year, the state government refuses to provide details of the agencies which have received funding under the heading.

“The Legislative Assembly is not informed of the identity of these recipients, thus rendering it impossible to supervise the utilisation of the funds allocated this heading.

“As such, the executive, especially the Chief Minister, since he is the Finance Minster, is not accountable for the money allocated under this heading,” he said, pointing out that it is absurd that details of the allocation of expenditure for an amount of as small as RM1200 are clearly spelt out in the budget while a huge amount exceeding RM1 billion is not properly accounted for.

“This defies the basic principle of political and financial accountability in a democratic system,” Chong said, pointing out that the opacity of this item makes it extremely susceptible to being abused.

He said: “Under the principle of accountability and transparency, the PR Sarawak (government) will put an end to such clandestine fiscal allocations.

“This allocation (RM1.7 billion) in 2012 will be spread out amongst the other ministries,” he said.

On allocations to various ministries, Chong said that the Land Development Ministry headed by James Masing should be dissolved as it gets zero allocation for development next year.

“For the fifth year running, Masing’s ministry has no estimate at all for development fund. All other ministries have some development funds.

“Even the most junior ministry, the Ministry of Welfare, Women and Family Development headed by Fatimah Abdullah has RM2.3 million for its development fund,” said Chong.

He said that the zero fund for Masing’s ministry seemed to confirm the Pakatan Rakyat’s alternative budget announced last Saturday.

“I mentioned in my budget launched last Saturday that the Land Ministry should be dissolved as it overlaps with the Ministry of Rural Development, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management.

“I thought with Masing being promoted to a senior minister his ministry at least should have some funding, and next year will be the fifth year it has no development fund.

“It has only RM3 million plus for the salaries of the staff in the ministry. So his ministry should be dissolved and Masing’s elevation and promotion to a senior minister is just a political stunt in order to make him happy and feel more important.

“What can you do without such fund? You go to office, surf internet and go back. You don’t have project.

“So Masing should go on retirement and his ministry be dissolved,” suggested Chong.

Saturday, November 12

Special funds for Dayaks

11 Nov 2011

KUCHING: The Dayak Community which forms slightly over 50% of the state 2.4 million people is the main focus of the Pakatan Rakyat’s alternative budget for 2012, if it gains power in the state.

An amount of RM1 billion out of the proposed budget of RM4.285 billion will be set aside for specific programmes to help the Dayak community which has been left marginalised since 48 years ago.

Announcing this at the DAP headquarters, Kota Sentosa assemblyman, Chong Chieng Jen, who is also the Pakatan Rakyat shadow minister of finance said that of the RM1 billion, RM100 million will be set aside for the establishment of a Dayak Welfare Fund.

Among others, the fund will be used for medical assistance to poor Dayaks, to rebuild their houses destroyed by fire and other natural disasters, to care for abandoned Dayak senior citizens, for the supply of water tanks, pumps and pipes for longhouses and to repair dilapidated houses.

A sum of RM20 will be allocated to the Ministry of Tourism and Heritage to preserve Dayak cultural heritage and traditions including the building of a Dayak cultural Centre, collection and publication of oral cultural traditions and histories, development grants for academic research into Dayak cultural practices and traditions and incentives for the publication of Dayak literature.

Chong said that the Pakatan state government will allocate RM80 million to the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management to carry out perimeter survey, to issue land titles to these landowners and for legal assistance in legal disputes with plantation groups and other companions which may also want to take claims to this land.

An additional allocation of RM250 million will be provided to the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture to provide financial and technical support to the Dayak community for crop planting activities on NCR land.

Chong also proposed RM80 million to establish a SADA Entrepreneur Development Unit under the Chief Minister’s Department with the expressed objective to develop the entrepreneur skills of the Dayaks in the marketing and sales of agriculture produce and retail goods.

A SADA Education fund of RM120 million is proposed to uplift the education level of Dayaks students and to ensure Dayaks are competent in various professional and technical fields.

This includes RM30 to send Dayak student overseas and another RM10 million for the tuition purposed for both the primary and secondary Dayak students, Chong said.

Asked to elaborate on the special funds, he said that many within the Dayak community, especially those living in the longhouses are deprived of conveniences which many others, especially those in the urban areas, take for granted.

For example, Dayaks almost never have medical insurance and thus are not able to pat for specialist treatment which struck down by certain illness.

He said in 2008, a pair of twin sisters who were diagnose with degenerative kidney disease was sent from Miri to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for treatment. A lack of funds delayed their trip, and as a result, one of the twins passed away.

He said: “Dayak homes and other properties such as boats are usually not covered by insurance. Dayak longhouses are particularly vulnerable to fire since wood stoves are still commonly used in many longhouses to cook.

“These homes are also particularly vulnerable during times of flooding and other natural disasters. The famous logjam affecting Rajang River in October 2010 destroyed many jetties and longboats.

“Uncontrolled and under-supervised logging activities pollute the rivers and drinking waters of the Dayaks.

“Many Dayaks still rely on wells and on rain water because of gaps in the coverage of piped water,” he said, pointing out that to reduce and mitigate some of the problems faced by the Dayaks, the PR Sarawak propped to allocate RM100 million to the Ministry of Social Development and Urbanisation to set up a Dayak Welfare Fund.

Chong: “We must not shut our eyes on the plight of the Dayaks as what the BN ministers have done.

“The Dayaks all alone have been marginalised and left out from the main stream of development in our country.

“As such, PR must take action to help the Dayak community in terms of their education, cultural and social levels,” he said.

Commenting on the same issue, Dr. John Brian Anthony, chairman of Dayak Consultative Council, said that the amount of RM1 billion was based on the promised by Penang chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

“This will help Dayaks among others in education such as sending Dayak students to be trained overseas in order to acquire skills and experience, because they will one day become not only the leaders of the community, but also of the state and country.

“Another interesting thing in the budget is that the strengthening of the Dayak culture. You see culture is a strong unifying factor.

“If we improve our cultural development than we Dayaks will be able to keep our identity as a race and that will become a good product for tourism. This will also mean other people could understand and learn the Dayak culture,” he said.

The other part emphasised by the budget is on agriculture, Brian said, pointing out that the Dayaks have asset factors of production such as land which has not been fully utilised by the present government.

“The present government has been talking about modernisation of agriculture, and I do not see nay modernisation taking place.

“Once the Pakatan takes over the government, it will give tittles to the landowners and will help them to develop their land. Dayak economy will be further enhanced through giving them the land titles,” he said.

Thursday, November 10

A lesson for us all

First, it began through Facebook which is very popular nowadays among young girls, boys and even their mothers and fathers. Through Facebook, many become hooked, intimate and then cheated.

Take for example the case of Beatrice Johie, a 27 year old nurse and a single mother of three from Kampung Seratau, Kuching/Serian Road, who was arrested last Sunday at Melbourne Airport carrying 1.5 kg of heroine in her luggage.

The luggage which she was carrying belonged to her Nigerian boyfriend named Anthony, and the drug was hidden in its lining.

The boyfriend was supposed to go with her but because of his visa ‘problem’ he could not go. He asked Beatrice to carry his bag. Any logic or not?

Beatrice met the Nigerian through Facebook. She was advised by her relatives to be extra careful with the foreign boyfriend especially if he comes from Africa.

She ignored their advice.

Many young Malaysian girls have been turned into ‘mules’ to carry drugs for their boyfriends and several have been arrested overseas.

Beatrice was charged at Melbourne Magistrates Court on Monday. She is now being remanded until January 9, 2012.

She is facing a 25 years imprisonment and or a fine of A$550,000.

In some countries like Malaysia, she could face mandatory death sentence, if found guilty.

Beatrice is bringing shame not only to herself, but also her family members. Worst, her detention is certain to affect the future well-being of her three sons aged two, six and eight years old.

What is so attractive about this African man that she is prepared to risk herself by agreeing to follow him to Australia? Is it the promise of big money? Or is it really love?

She ignored her relatives’ advice and therefore pays a heavy price for it.

Something our young girls should ponder.

Monday, November 7

About 500,000 people have no electricity

KUCHING: The DAP Member for Padungan, Wong King Wei told the Press that he recently received a written reply to his questions submitted to Dewan Undangan Negeri on electricity and water supply during the last sitting of the assembly.

The reply is as follows: “For the information of Ahli Yang Berhormat for Padungan, as at the end of 2010, the number of people who are not connected to the state grid is estimated at about 500,000 people or 111,000 households.

“However, these households are supplied with electricity through alternative systems.

“As for the water supply, the number of people who do not have treated water supply as at the end of 2010 is estimated at about 450,000 or about 100,000 households. Nevertheless, these households are supplied with clean water through alternative systems.”

According to Wong, the majority of the 500,000 people who do not have any electricity and 450,000 of them who do not have treated water supply are the rural population especially the Dayaks.

“It is sad that after 48 years of independence, many rural Sarawakians have not been given basic needs like electricity and water,” he said.

So what are our so-called Dayak leaders have been doing all this while?

Thursday, November 3

Baru Bian calls for referendum

KUCHING: A Sarawak PKR leader today supported a call for a referendum to find out how many federal ministers and those involved in education policy-making are sending their children overseas to study English.

“There is a suggestion by certain quarters that there should be a referendum among the federal ministers where and which schools they are sending their children to.

“I support this suggestion so that we know where they send their children to. Are they sending their children overseas to learn English?” asked state PKR Chief Baru Bian.

He was reacting to the announcement made by Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that starting from next year all schools will start using Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science.

“With this referendum, then we can see whether these ministers are sincere or they just want to make it (using Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science) just a political issue,” he said.

Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman said: “As a father and a PKR leader, we would like to make a stand regarding the change of education policy as announced by the Minister of Education that the teaching of mathematics and science should be changed back to the use of Bahasa Malaysia.

“An earlier indication from the school was that that they were given option. But now the use of Bahasa Malaysia to teach mathematics and science is absolute and without any option.

“Looking at the history of ministers of education, each one of them would come with a different kind of policy when he took over the ministry, resulting in very inconsistent educational policies.

“Our stand is that you should stick to one policy only as changing it mid-term is really making it worse for our people,” said Bian, pointing out that the government had not learnt from the past.

“Secondly, we must understand we are now moving in the global village as it were that English is one of the common languages used to communicate to day in the pursuit of knowledge of science and global issues,” he said.

As the country is approaching the 13th general election, he said: “It is irresistible conclusion, as a lawyer would say that the minister is using it as a political issue to gain political mileage.

“As a minister for all races, he should not use it as a political issue. It is not fair to other people,” he said.

Commenting on the same issue, Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen described the change of teaching mathematics and science from English back to Bahasa Malaysia as a step backward.

“We are all concerned as this is a step backward,” said Chong who is the state DAP secretary, pointing out that “it is a great burden for our students who have to study mathematics and science in Bahasa Malaysia from Form One right to Form Five, and then to English in Lower and Upper Six.

“It would be better for the students in secondary schools to be taught in English in mathematics and science as we are laying the foundation for them to go to colleges and universalities.

“All research materials for engineering, medicine and science subjects are in English. It will be a great burden for our students,” he said.

Chong, who is the MP for Bandar Kuching, accused certain ministers of overzealous over the importance of Bahasa Malaysia.

“Bahasa Malaysia is our national language. It is important, but we have to understand that the country is not an island. We are playing in global fields,” he said, pointing out that the government has to be more practical about this issue.

“If our economy is strong, not only our people will start to learn Bahasa Malaysia, foreigners will also start learning the language.

“Just like China now where a lot of foreigners are learning Mandarin because her economy is strong. But when the economy is weak, you cannot be overzealous about Bahasa Malaysia.,” he said.

Chong also expressed his deep disappointment that starting next near all government departments and agencies must use Bahasa Malaysia as their official communication.

“For Sarawak that is a stupid move,” he said, pointing out that in Sarawak, Bahasa Malaysia, English and native languages can be used alongside each other.

“This is written in our Malaysian agreement,” he said.