KUCHING: Abdul Aziz Isa is still a little wet behind the ears in terms of concepts regarding public administration, said Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) chairman Lo Khere Chiang.
He said this in response to statements by the special assistant to Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Deputy Minister Chong Chieng Jen dated May 4 and May 22 who claimed that he (Lo) doesn’t understand the concept of public administration concerning the back-and-forth arguments on a RM800,000 new hawker centre.
“For someone who has almost zero working experience in the real workforce, Aziz is a little too arrogant. His assumption and administrative knowledge appears to be copied from one of his university lecture notes. In real life, without the availability of funds, the textbook concept falls apart,” he said.
Lo further elaborated on factual information on the finances of MPP to school Aziz.
“MPP’s annual assessment rates collected is RM23 million. The council’s expenditures on emoluments for 450 staff is RM19 million, rubbish collection is at RM7.9 million while desludging services takes up another RM2.5 million.
“Each year we get RM2 in million development grants from the state government to carry out drain and road improvements. Maintenance costs are always a challenging issue and nobody would dispute the fact that these costs are high.
“After the 14th General Election (GE14), making ends meet for our people is already hard enough. If MPP were to collect more than the present assessment rates for development funds, the people will suffer. That is why we try to keep it as low as we possibly can,” he explained.
Lo added that instead of telling ratepayers to pay more from assessment rates to build Haji Baki hall and hawker centre, Aziz should help Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) to shout at the federal government to return the state’s oil profit.
“GE14 was in May last year. Why is Aziz imitating his political masters by going after the RM1.8 million projects when his own government has billions of Sarawak’s oil and gas money yet to be returned to Sarawak?” he questioned.
He also mentioned that the Member of Parliament (MP) for Kota Sentosa Chong Chieng Jen, a three-term member, is ignorant about Malaysian Roads Record Inventory System (Marris) allocation from the federal government.
“MPP maintains more than a length of 1,500km of roads. To tar seal 1km of road with 4 inches thick of premix requires RM200,000. However, MPP only received RM27,500 per km from the federal government under Marris allocation. How can we maintain RM1,500km of roads on RM27,500 per km efficiently?” he said.
Lo also said that Chong claimed there is RM600 million under the Marris Fund for the state’s Public Works Department (JKR) and that MPP can use these funds to maintain the roads. However, the amount of RM516,728,540 under JKR last year was meant to cover the maintenance of all roads in the state totalling 13,880km.
Given that to seal one kilometre with 4-inch thick premix costs RM200,000, the fund (RM516,728,540) could only cover around 2,500km and not the whole 13,880km roads in the state.
“No wonder there is not enough money to repair road erosion and embankment failures along Puncak Borneo Road, Kampung Karu Road and so on. What a laughing stock when the Works Minister even suggested these meagre funds be used to maintain federal roads as well,” he uttered.
Lo continued, “The Federal government is supposed to review the road grants allocated to Sarawak once every few years but that has not been the case. Prices of goods have gone up and our economy is worse than before.
“Previously, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government did not review the Marris allocation. Meanwhile, the current PH government not only did not review but is also cutting development grant for my Haji Baki Hall and Hawker Centre projects.”
Lo also blamed the PH government’s incompetence in fulfilling their election promises to restore Sarawak rights fully under Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and to return its years of oil profit which consequently leads MPP to not have enough development funds.
He also mentioned the need for equitable distribution of development funds as the size of MPP alone is bigger than the entire island state of Penang.
“So far nothing has been coming back to Sarawak in terms of return of tourism tax, 50 per cent of income tax revenue, 20 per cent of petrol royalty and so on,” he commented.
“Aziz should go to his bosses, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, to tell them to fulfil their promises and to return all rights and privileges enshrined under MA63 to develop Sarawak,” he concluded.