DAP slams Sarawak for bowing to Putrajaya over highway project
Sarawak's opposition leader Chong Chieng Jen has accused the state government of "surrendering" local rights and control of the RM27 billion Pan Borneo Highway project to the federal government.
The DAP's Chong said the state minister for infrastructure development Datuk Seri Michael Manyin had allowed the federal Works Ministry to have "absolute control over the largest infrastructure project in the history of Sarawak".
Chong, the Kota Sentosa assemblyman, said the state government must take a firm stand and take over control of the peninsula-owned company awarded the road upgrade contract, Lebuhraya Borneo Utara Sdn Bhd (LBU).
“It is shameful that in the largest infrastructural work in Sarawak, the state JKR (Public Works Department) is totally sidelined and plays no important role in the implementation,” Chong said.
“It is even more shameful that the state minister seems to be happy that his ministry is reduced to a mere bystander in this mega project.”
The state legislative assembly sitting witnessed some feisty exchanges between Chong and Manyin.
As Manyin winded up debates on his ministry, Chong interjected to ask why the state government allowed the project to be awarded to a company controlled by west Malaysians.
Manyin in reply stuck to the statement he had just made – that the move to award the project to LBU was a federal government decision as the highway was a federal-funded project.
The minister then said if Chong wanted answers to his questions, he should raise it in Parliament. Chong is also the MP for Bandar Kuching.
“If our state ministers are going to adopt such attitude of pushing their responsibilities to the federal government and let federal officers decide matters concerning Sarawak, in no time, Umno, through the federal government departments, is going to control Sarawak,” Chong said.
LBU, he added, should therefore be controlled by the state government and “not by some West Malaysians who are linked to Umno”.
The upgrading work, to turn the two-lane highway to a four-lane one, covers 912km from Tanjung Datu at the southern tip of the state to the Merapok (Sarawak) – Sindumin (Sabah) border crossing.
The upgrade of the entire highway is scheduled for completion in 2023.