Sunday, August 14, 2022

A PM’s Private Secretary from Sarawak

Secara Rawak

I was asked by the people in the media when ‘development’ is going to be a non-issue in the Sarawak general elections.

How am I going to answer this kind of questions? I am not a politician neither am I a decision-maker.

But we don’t have to be one of them to understand that the problems facing the people need to be solved and tackled.

Sarawak still lags behind

Sarawak still lags behind many states in all aspects of development. The manifesto of the PRS which was launched a few days ago speaks volume of the predicaments faced by the people in the state, especially those in the rural areas.

The people still lack treated water supply, 24-hour electricity service, clinic, schools, roads, telecommunication towers, and so on. These are the main issues that have been debated, discussed, and talked about elections after elections in the Sarawak.

Perhaps, the media people are becoming too acquainted with the issues that they want something else to report. What’s there to report about the people who pumped their fists to endorse the promises made by the politicians? This has been going on for the last 53 years.

How long will this have to go on? For another 53 years?

More predictable

Elections in Sarawak have become more and more predictable. We can easily predict who are going to be selected as candidates. As for the development issues, these matters seem to be perpetual in nature.

It looks like that media people already have a pre-prepared template on development issues in Sarawak, and all they need to do when elections come is to update the information.

In one aspect, Sarawak politics is becoming boring. In the other, it can be interesting as we want to know who make promises and how much is the pledge. We want to know also who never fulfil their promises, who delivers and who doesn’t.

It is quite easy to distribute the MRP’s money, just about anyone who knows a bit of arithmetic can do that. But it is the big projects as discussed in the PRS’ manifesto are the ones that have become the major concerns for Sarawakians.

Interestingly, I have never heard of the people in Semenanjung Malaysia asking for development projects from the Prime Minister.

We are told not to compete with the Jones. That is a good advice so that we are not going to be stressful trying to keep up with these people.  Don’t compete unnecessarily. It is not good for one’s physical, mental, and financial well-being.

But Sarawak cannot avoid comparing itself with the other much more advanced states in the federation. The basic necessities are not there yet.

We are now in the process of electing our 11th and same political party since independence to administer and to develop the state. The greatest power given by the people to the government is the power to tax them and to spend their tax money. We want the government to deliver.

Back to the question from the people in the media:  Why did they ask me that question?

A PMs Private Secretary from Sarawak

To BN’s advantage

My answer was simple. Until we achieve parity with the other states in the federation, the issue is not going to go away. Thus far, development issues have given the BN the advantages in every election held in Sarawak. Is the BN going to keep it that way another 5 decades?

The developments projects and programmes are discussed and thrashed out by the civil servants. Not all projects reach the highest level of the civil service as they are screened at all levels of the civil service hierarchy.

If the projects never get to the discussion agenda at the highest level of the civil service, they will never become the official agenda of the government. If the projects never get to the cabinet level, they will never be approved.

We never know what really happens to the likes of the Tellian Secondary School in Mukah and to the Sri Aman Hospital. Why they have not been implemented after so many years baffles us?

It certainly cannot take 35 years to build a bridge such at the one crossing the Batang Kayan in Lundu.

If projects in Sarawak cannot reach the discussion and formal agenda of the government, perhaps we need another channel so that those projects that have been pledged reach the cabinet level.

This is where I believe the Prime Minister needs a private secretary from Sarawak. We can have two, and one of them should be from the Dayak community.

Follow up job

The main task of Prime Minister’s Private Secretary is to do a follow up job, to remind him of his and the government’s development promises and pledges in Sarawak.

The follow up jobs should include the task to ensure that the money that has been allocated for certain projects should be used for those projects only, and not to be utilised for other projects in another districts.

We know that money is given to the state government based on what has been agreed upon in the annual budget. The onus is on the state government to use that money accordingly.

The Prime Minister’s private secretary from Sarawak may be able to help in addressing some of the problems facing the people in the state. –

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