Monday, 20 October 2014

Sabah projects should go to Sabah firms, Dewan told

KUALA LUMPUR: Development projects in Sabah should be given to locals there instead of wealthy companies from the peninsula, a Sabah Barisan Nasional MP said in Parliament.

Kalabakan MP Datuk Seri Abdul Ghapur Salleh said the Pan Borneo Highway was one infrastructure project that should be awarded to Sabahans to benefit the state economy.

"There's this letter being circulated that said the project was awarded to Syed Mohktar's company.

"I would like the Prime Minister to look into this and if this is true, action should be taken," said Ghapur, referring to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.

Ghapur said after 51 years of being Malaysia, Sabahans still feel "left out" of development compared with other parts of the country.

"There are still many who live in the rural areas, like in Kinabatangan, who have to dig a hole for their toilet," said Abdul Ghapur in his speech on Budget 2015, Wednesday.

This prompted Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin to say that while the Federal Government had to pay attention to the people's concerns, the opposition was also trying to make things worse.

Ghapur said he disagreed.

"I do not agree with Kinabatangan. He has different set of view on this issue," the Kalabakan MP said.

"I have talked about this many times in the Parliament sitting. We want equal share. When we talk about the development and budget, don't say that there is no budget (for Sabah).

After 51 years, this should not be a reason," said Ghapur.

Ghapur added that national statistics on the average household income in the country did not portray the actual situation in Sabah.

He was responding to a question from DAP Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming, who had asked if it was true that the average household income in Sabah stood at RM4,000 as stated in a study carried out in 2012.

Bung Mokhtar also had asked Ghapur if he agreed with the latest statistics released by Putrajaya the average household income in the country was RM5,900.

"If there is no RM4,000, what more of RM5,900? I would like to suggest that we set up a committee to go around Sabah and collect the data on household income in the state.

"Then we can find out what is really the household income in Sabah. We cannot go on average because it will not be able to show the real situation in the country," said Ghapur.

"We are allowed to criticise. I want to do this make things better and to tell the Federal government that more things should be done for Sabah," he said.

Hence, he warned that voters from the state will not hesitate to vote differently if they continue to be neglected .

Ghapur also pointed to federal control of Sabah's development and resources as evidence of Putrajaya's unfair treatment of the state. He noted that the state receives only 5 per cent of royalty in return for oil extracted from its territory, while development in Sabah is controlled by companies from the peninsular.

Ghapur said it was no surprise that a so-called secessionist movement was taking root in Sabah given the lopsided policies accorded to a state that helped BN retain power in the previous two general elections.

"Our people remain poor. Our oil royalty remains low and when there is development, like the upgrade of the pan-Borneo highway, it is given to Syed Mokhtar," he said.

It was reported that UEM Group Bhd will be partnering MMC Corp Bhd, an engineering and construction group owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, for the project.

Ghapur warned that Putrajaya cannot continue to ignore the frustration of Sabahans and urged for immediate action to address the grievances of its people to avoid a voter backlash in the upcoming national polls.

"Please listen. I am conveying the voice of Sabahans' hearts. Put your ear to their chests and listen."

Sabah and Sarawak came to BN's salvation amid an opposition onslaught that saw the ruling coalition take one seat more than the Pakatan Rakyat pact in the peninsula during last year's general election.

The results prompted Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak to appoint more Sabahan BN leaders into his Cabinet, but the move did not dispel grouses over lopsided treatment by Putrajaya.

Political observers have said the two east Malaysian states will be the key battleground that will decide if BN will continue to rule Malaysia.

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