Sarawak DUN Diary
Chiew Chin Sing’s question on the pollution, density of emission form plants around Bintulu was third question for the day. However, the question was not properly answered by Len Talib Salleh (Assistant Minister for Environment) who bit around the bush and evaded answering the question. Len Talib simply quoted the lawful permissible levels under the Act in respect of mercury pollutant while the pollution issue in Bintulu is about aluminium fluoride pollution. He is either totally ignorant about the pollution issue in Bintulu or that the Government simply does not have any monitoring mechanism on pollution in Bintulu.
At the end of the Q & A session, the Speaker ruled that each ADUN’s debate time is now reduced to 15 minute each.
Violet Yong spoke in the morning. She brought up issues on the cable theft in Muara Tabuan Light Industry Park, questioned on why Second Hand Dealer Act is still not implemented despite having been extended to Sarawak already, raised objection on the alienation of 7.885 Ha land at Simpang Tiga to Prometia for education purpose and thereafter converted into mixed development (including commercial and residential), raised the concern of the increasing number of heavily tinted class vehicle in town, and lastly spoke on the mosquito and sand fly problem at Jalan Chawan after the earth-filling project at a plot of land belonging to ASSAR.
In the afternoon, David Wong spoke first. He spoke on the regressive nature of GST, the removal of sugar subsidy and reduction of oil subsidy and yet continued budget deficit, the over-bloated civil service and the senseless policy of LPKP. He called on the Chief Minister to explain the current debt obligation of the State and the sudden hike in interest expenditure. He also urged for declaration of the assets of members of Administration, implementation of open tender on government procurement and the prohibition on members of Administration and their family to apply for government contracts and state land
The following is the Hansard report of my speech:
“ Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: Thank you, Tuan Speaker. I would like to raise a few points in respect of the Budget. Number one, as before, I think it contains an item underthe Investment in Securities and Assets which constitute about RM1,978 million development expenditure. And out of that RM1,978 million, RM1,528.8 million goes to “Government Contributions Towards Approved Agencies Trust Fund”, the so-called “black-hole” in the State Budget. This is money unaccounted to the Dewan. It is a shame on the part of the Government to have money siphoned out from the consolidated Fund in such blatant manner, year after year. And I still stand here to urge the Government to clarify who are these approved agencies and in relation to that item under the Investment in Securities and Assets ... (interruption)
Tuan Speaker: Yang Berhormat, are these in the variegation?
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: In respect of the next year‟s budget RM1,528.8 million is not in the record. So the Government still has the obligation to account for. There are two more items, No. 030115 (State Corporate Investments) which has been allocated RM211 million and also 030116 Sistem Pengurusan Air Sisa Secara Bersepadu di Bandaraya Kuching (Zon 1 Fasa A) which as been allocated RM150.26 million. What is the portfolio of the investments and how are these funds being used? And thirdly, I would like to refer to the allocation of RM63 million for International Medical Centre Sarawak. I believe that centre is now called the Sarawak Heart Specialist Centre. It has been rented to Federal Ministry of Education at a token sum and since the Federal Ministry of Education has taken over the hospital, why is there still the need to allocate RM63 million for the account or under this heading?
I would like to raise the issue that I have raised in the last sitting which are the Honourable Minister for Finance II did not answer or has irritated to answer. He has not been telling the full truth and is hiding some information. It is about the Equisar International Incorporation which has raise a loan of US$800 million.
Tuan Speaker, at the time when the loan was raised i.e. in July 2011, the Malaysian Government Bond at that time, the year is interest average at the level of 3.9%. However, this bond that has been issued by the Sarawak State Government through Equisar International Incorporated is paying and interest of 6.628% which is 2.72% higher than the average bond yield that the Government of Malaysia is paying. Isn‟t it very fishy? As a result of the exceptionally high interest rate paid on this account,at the end of the day Sarawak Government has to pay an additional US$21,824,000every year, the 2.7% higher that the prevailing market interest rate. Translate intoUS$21.8 million which is equivalent to approximately RM70,000,000.00 annually and that Sarawakian has to pay.
In addition, I also post a question in my last sitting asking the Finance Minister totell this Dewan, besides this loan through Equisar International Incorporated, is there anyother offshore loan that has been raised by that has been borrowed by the StateGovernment, I got no answer from him.
But through my research I found that inNovember 2012, the Government of Sarawak through another company, also anotheroffshore company called SSG Resources Limited raise another bond of US$800 million.
At that time, Malaysia Government Bonds charged about 6.3% interest, the bond yield ofMalaysia Government in general at that time i.e. November 2012 is 3.6%. I would like toknow how much is the State Government paying for the second offshore loan and I wouldlike to repost my question again, is there any other offshore loan that has been raised bythe State Government which the State Government is keeping us in dark. I think we areall entitled to know, this is our money, our peoples money, the state money. So, everysingle cent the Government should be held accountable.
Timber Production and Export Revenue
Tuan Speaker, Sarawak is very rich in timber undeniably. But in the process of it,we are losing an estimated potential revenue of RM17 billion a year. How do I come tothat figure Tuan Speaker? I have some figure from Malaysia Timber Council. I will justread it out. In 2012 the timber production in Sarawak is RM10.12 million m3. Exportrevenue generated RM7.073 billion, at the same time in Peninsular Malaysia timberproduction isRM4.162 million m3. Export revenue generated by the timber industry inPeninsular Malaysia is RM10.94 billion. In 2011, timber production for Sarawak isRM9.61 million, export revenue generated is RM6.969 billion. Whereas for PeninsularMalaysia at the same time, timber production is RM4.17 million m3 but the revenuegenerated is RM10.865 billion ... (interruption)
Tuan Speaker: Your source is from Forestry or Custom?
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: Malaysian Timber Council. In 2012, timber productionfrom Sarawak was RM9.6 million, export revenue generated was RM7.209 billion but inPeninsular Malaysia for the same period of time, timber production was RM4.46 million,export revenue generated was RM11.176 billion. Overall on average for Sarawak, thetimber production the average export revenue generated m3 of timber production isroughly RM750 /m3 timber production. Whereas in Peninsular Malaysia the averageexport revenue generated m3 of timber production was RM2,500 / m3 timber production.
So, Tuan Speaker, you can see by this calculation, if we are producing...
Tuan Speaker: Are you taking clarification from Belawai?
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: Sorry, I have no enough time. Tuan Speaker, ifwe aregoing by RM9.6 million m3 timber production and if we are efficient as our counter part inPeninsular Malaysia we will be in fact rake RM24 billion export revenue instead of thepresent RM7 billion, export revenue generated.
So, Tuan Speaker, where all of these money gone through? The main culprit is apolicy of a state Government which allowed log to be exported from Sarawak, where asthere is no in the exportation log from Sarawak, there is no value added, there is nodownstream industry. So we lose out on that. So I urge the Government to change thepolicy that is this timber company, this large timber companies who are generallyregarded as BS Cronies should not be allowed thus to export the logs like that. Weshould protect our own downstream timber industry.
Tabung Baitulmal Sarawak
Tuan Speaker, my assistant Abdul Aziz Isa has recently written to TabungBaitulmal Sarawak to request for the production of the Financial Reports of TabungBaitulmal Sarawak. But his request was turned down.
Tuan Speaker, my question is simple. Why is the account of Tabung BaitulmalSarawak so secretive? Why is they to hide? Tabung Baitulmal collects zakat, wakaf fromthe public. It is accountable to the public for the way its spent the money.
On the 22nd July2013 the Assistant Minister in charge of Tabung Baitulmal, Honourable Member fromTupong claims that I‟ll read out claim that in the paper,‟ RM 2 million annually to help thepoor and RM30- 40 million to help the target group.‟
Tuan Speaker, RM 2 million annually to help the poor. I have some figure herethat I got it from Parliament. At present, there are about 12,727 Malay household underthe categories of poverty or hardcore poverty. At the same time, there are 4,038 Melanauhouseholds under these categories as well. In total about 16,000 households under thecategory of poverty or hardcore poverty.
It‟s RM2 million from the Baitulmal alone. If only2 million counts to help is use to help the poor Malays or Muslims, it is highly insufficient. Iwould like to know what are the target groups, so all the target groups they have receivedRM 30 – 40 millon and how many of these poor families have actually receivedassistance from Tabung Baitulmal Sarawak and how much is a family for a year?
Tuan Speaker, I have a brochure on the Baitulmal Sarawak I think under the DanaZakat Asnah Miskin. The number of people that have received the assistance is verysmall. Especially shocking is Bantuan Pengajian Sekolah Rendah or Menengah, zero. Noone receive bantuan under the heading Bantuan Pengajian Sekolah Rendah andMenengah. Why is it possible? How is it possible like that? Whereas we read from thenewspaper, that Baitulmal Sarawak is planning to build just spent 100 million to build thisbuilding in Miri, in Sibu and even in Kuching after the Baitul Makmur 1. A new contracthave been awarded for Baitul Makmur 2 building which is awarded to EastbourneCorporation Berhad at a price at RM253 million and that contract is sub-contracted out toHock Seng Lee at the discounted price of RM228 million. RM25 million gone into pocket.
That why we are asking…
Tuan Speaker: Let the member speak.
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: That‟s why the Minister has a lot to answer on theoperation of the Baitulmal Sarawak.
Tuan Speaker: You have one minute more.
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: Tuan Speaker, I think you know about Caliph Umar Al-Khattab who is well-known for his value of zuhud and integrity, not allowing his family tobenefit a single cent from the state resources…
Tuan Speaker: You are referring to Caliph Umar Ibni Khattab.
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: Pardon? Yes, Umar Al-Khattab.
Tuan Speaker: Ibni Khattab.
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: Yes. So, these are good values, integrity, living inmoderation. These are good values, versus of Islam. But I don’t see among of our Muslimleaders in a state.
Tuan Speaker, I‟ll go on to. I urge our leader to practice this good Islamvalues.
7th Mile re-routing Exercise
7th Mile re-routing Exercise has caused a lot of these content among Residents in7th Mile Bazaar.
Tuan Speaker: Your time is up.
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: Can I just finish it? Tuan Speaker, over this year. I‟llconclude with just a few comments. Over these years I observe member from Satok. Heis a gentleman but recently I think there is a change of behaviour, demeanour. Remindme very resemble of UMNO politician.
Tuan Speaker: Remind you of what?
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: What?
Tuan Speaker: Remind you of what?
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: UMNO politician in the Parliament. That‟s why I justwonder why he has been kept at bay for so long …
Tuan Speaker: Don‟t be personal.
Y.B. Encik Chong Chieng Jen: Why, I think there is a fear for him to bring in UMNO andhe has risen up to this rank. Tuan Speaker, such fear is quite right.
And last one, onImpian Sarawak. Go rural. DAP go rural. They have been mentioned so many times byHonourable Members in this House from the other side. My answer is that is the simpleone. Just a quick one please do not be feel fearful of this Impian Sarawak.
Our goals arethis;
a) To help those who have been neglected by BN;
b) To tell the rural folks about what the BN is hiding from them, i.e. theirrights, the financial scandals of the state, the land-grabbing policy of theBarisan Nasional;
c) To empowered the rural folks for they have thus far been disempoweredby the Barisan Nasional.
So Tuan Speaker, last words, I dare the Honourable Chief Minister not todissolved this DUN for another 2 years and you will see the impact, and 2 years after thatyou can dissolved the DUN, the impact of our Impian Sarawak project. We are right; therewill be an additional numbers on our side from the rural people. Thank you very much.”