DAP: Help transform the 'poorest state in Malaysia' -- Sabah
By Queville To
KOTA KINABALU: It’s time the Sabah government renegotiated its limited oil royalty agreement with the federal government to help transform the “poorest state in Malaysia”, said the DAP.
Teo Nie Ching, the national publicity assistant and Serdang MP, said that state government leaders ought to know that the 5% royalty currently doled out to the state was "just too meagre" to make a difference.
“We understand (from the Sabah Budget 2011) that 51% of the income of the state government for next year is expected to come from oil royalty. We all know that currently Sabah, Sarawak and Kelantan are only given 5% of the oil royalty. So this 5% comprises 51% of the total income of Sabah.
“Sabah is the poorest state in the country hence, it is time the state government renegotiated the oil royalty as 5% is definitely not sufficient for the poorest state, which is supposed to be the richest state in the country,” she said.
She was speaking at a press conference here on Saturday together with party adviser Lim Kit Siang and Sabah DAP leaders Hiew King Cheu, his deputy Jimmy Wong, Edward Mujie and Dr Edwin Bosi.
Noting that the recently-unveiled RM3 billion Sabah Budget 2011 is the biggest thus far, Teo questioned where the state government intended to get the money as the expected income for the state this year is lesser than last year.
“The income for 2010 is expected to be more than RM3 billion. Besides, the state government issued a bond of RM544 million. This year the total income of the state is only RM2,747.94 million, hence it is lesser than last year.
"With this increase in budget, where does the state government intend to get the money from?” she asked.
'CM owes an explanation'
On the 2010 per-capita income of RM26,365 for Sabah announced by Chief Minister Musa Aman who said it was expected to increase by 6% to RM27,950, Teo asked what percentage of population was expected to earn such a figure.
“I think this should be answered,” she said.
Teo also pointed out the discrepancy between the number of projects completed under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) and the amount spent.
She said that with only a month to go before the year ends, out of the 837 projects implemented under the 9MP, only 391 or 46.7% were completed. Interestingly, the state budget indicated that 81% of the allocation was spent.
“I think the chief minister owes the people of Sabah a good explanation on why the percentage of completed projects for the 9MP is so low. Can we believe that the Barisan Nasional (BN) can deliver what it intended to achieve in the 10th Malaysia Plan?” she asked.
Teo also pointed out that the national Budget 2011 unveiled by Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak showed that Peninsular Malaysia was by far the biggest beneficiary while Sabah and Sarawak were the biggest losers.
“With a whole series of multi-billion ringgit mega projects lining up in Najib's Budget 2011, it has become clear that Sabah and Sarawak continue to remain marginalised and will be hard-pressed to benefit from the federal government plans,” she said.
A total of RM109.74 billion has been set aside for the projects cited in the national budget specifically located in Peninsular Malaysia.
Among them are the RM40-billion Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system for the Klang Valley, the RM26-billion Kuala Lumpur International Financial District, an estimated RM10 billion worth of new highways, a RM10-billion mixed property development in Sungai Buloh by the Employees Provident Funf (EPF) as well as the RM5-billion controversial 100-storey Warisan Merdeka.
Incidence of poverty
In contrast, projects specifically for Sabah and Sarawak amount to RM9.55 billion or 8% of the total value of projects cited in the latest budget.
At the same time, based on the 9MP Mid-Term Review, Sabah and Sarawak remained among the poorest in the country. According to the report in 2007, the incidence of poverty in Peninsular Malaysia is 2.3%, while that in Sarawak is nearly double at 4.3%, and in Sabah it's nearly seven times higher at 16%.
Even these figures are estimates as the basic infrastructure in Sabah and Sarawak is well below that of Peninsular Malaysia. Based on 2009 data from the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, 41% of both states are without rural water supply, while the figure is only 10% in the peninsula.
The gap is even bigger for rural electricity coverage, with 23% not covered in Sabah and 33% in Sarawak but only 0.5% in Peninsular Malaysia.
Teo said that it was difficult to compute the poverty levels in Sabah and Sarawak at only 16% and 4.3% when 41% are without rural water while 23% and 33% are without electricity respectively.
"It's hard to imagine that it was only in 1970 when Sabah was the second richest state in Malaysia after Selangor (which included Kuala Lumpur then) and today, it is the poorest," she said.
She also noted that despite having more than 60% of the land mass in the country, Sabah and Sarawak combined have only 6,390km of paved roads while the peninsula has more than three times the length at 21,589km.
The allocations given by the BN-led federal government to the two states does not justify the vast contributions made by the two states to the coffer of the the BN-led federal government, she said.
"This does not reflect convincingly the sincerity of the promise made by Najib in his Budget 2011 speech, towards improving the infrastructures and the standard of living of Sabahans.
“I think the Sabah government has a duty to put pressure on the federal government so that more allocations will be channelled to the state as this is what the people of Sabah are entitled to,” she said.
Taken from FreeMalaysiaToday.com