Sarawak Pakatan Harapan Chairman Chong Chieng Jen must learn how to differentiate between Sarawak being forced to agree to a decision versus a Federal Minister plucking figures out of thin air to claim imaginary savings.
It is true that the secretary of the Sarawak Government signed with the Federal Government to terminate the Project Delivery Partner (PDP) agreement for the Pan Borneo Highway Sarawak project.
But what choice do you have when you are given the choice between signing the agreement to cancel and not receiving any of the pre-agreed funding for the project to continue?
This is the same situation where Sarawak was arm-twisted to pay RM1 billion advance payment in stages to the Federal Government before the project to repair dilapidated schools by the Federal Government can begin despite this RM1 billion amount already approved in Budget 2018 under the previous BN government.
Chong should not confuse the above situation with his DAP secretary-general and Finance Minister’s misleading statement that the cancellation of the Pan Borneo Sarawak PDP contract will lead to an imaginary savings of RM3.1 billion cost from RM21.9 bilion to RM18.8 billion.
As confirmed by Federal Works Minister Baru Bian in parliament on 26th March 2019, the original targeted cost of the project was RM16.48 billion.
Subsequent to that, the PDP was able to further reduce that cost to RM15.13 billion via cost optimization and efficiency savings while still maintaining the original project completion date of end 2021.
Until its cancellation, there has never been any accusation that the PDP was late in its project delivery or had gone above budget.
So how can the newly announced cost of RM18.8 billion be considered a reduction of RM3.1 billion from the previous cost of RM15.13 billion?
On the contrary, it is an increase in cost of RM3.67 billion instead.
With the cancellation of the PDP model and the changes announced by Guan Eng, the Pan Borneo Sarawak project now runs a real risk of being delayed from its original targeted date of end 2021 and the risk of the project’s cost being much higher than the current RM15.13 billion targeted cost.
When that happens, all Sarawakians should know that Chong is equally responsible.
Dato’ Sri Haji Fadillah Yusof
GPS Chief Whip