Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Marginalised Sarawak

On Nov 13, the eve of the Umno general assembly, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that an additional RM600 million has been approved to spearhead development in the rural areas. The funds was to top up the RM1.5 billion disbursed for rural development, which he claimed had already ran dry.

Within the same day, Jabatan Kerja Raya (JKR) announced a ‘Guidelines for Implementation Programme of Rural Projects 2006 Concept Paper’. The Paper stated that JKR "has been tasked with ensuring the implementation of the programme which must be undertaken and completed in 2006."
According to the document, it was estimated that RM3 million would be distributed to each parliamentary constituency except for those in Sarawak. This means that 191 constituencies will benefit from the year-end 'bonus'.
Besides the obvious correlation between the constituencies and the number of UMNO divisions throughout Malaysia, as well as the highly questionable speed at which the projects are to be awarded, completed and funds disbursed (all within 6 weeks!), it appears that the UMNO-led government is living up to its New Economic Policy promise of handouts to UMNOputras and UMNOputras only.

Sarawak has the 4th highest incidence of poverty in Malaysia after Sabah, Kelantan and Terengganu. Of its 2.4 million population, approximately 50% are non-Malay bumiputeras. A large majority of the non-Malay bumiputeras live in rural and substantially underdeveloped villages.

And just because UMNO doesn't have a single branch or division in Sarawak, Sarawak gets absolutely nothing, zilch, from the RM600 million "rural development" allocation. Its almost as if Sarawak doesn't belong to Malaysia proper. It's no wonder Peninsula Malaysians require an international passport to enter Sarawak!

The Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Finance may deny knowledge of "the money being disbursed to Umno divisional leaders," but the question remains as to why Sarawak has been marginalised in its rural development allocations. Surely, Sarawak deserves the funds more so than constituencies in say, Kuala Lumpur or Georgetown?

It is obvious that Malaysia's New Economic Policy is not for Malaysians, or Malays or other bumiputeras. The NEP's incarnation today is designed specifically to enrich UMNOputras.
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