Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Why does Sabah need a RM388m office?

Corrupt Barisan Nasional - KOTA KINABALU: In Sabah 65% of the roads are gravel tracks and clean drinking water and electricity are a luxury. Against this reality, is there a need for a RM388 million new administrative centre?
Questioning the logic behind the government’s decision to build a new complex, activist lawyer Kong Hong Ming said: “This money should be used to improve infrastructure and provide badly needed amenities to the people, especially those who are living in the rural areas.
“Why is the Sabah Barisan Nasional government spending taxpayers’ money on grandiose projects and not providing basic infrastructure such as piped-water supply to villagers?”
Kong said thousands of villagers in the state still do not have access to clean water.

Citing the case of Paitan in Beluran district, Kong, who is a Sabah PKR official, said here more than 12 villages were depending on rainwater for their daily water supply.
“And Paitan is only four hours from Kota Kinabalu. People in Paitan have suffered long enough.
“They badly need clean water and power supply which will require only a small fraction of the contract sum awarded for the recently announced Sabah administration centre costing some RM388 million to build,” he said.
Kong, who was in Kampung Simpang in Paitan recently, said he was shocked to hear complaints from villages who had voted the BN in every general election.
He said it was an outrage that the BN-led government had failed in its duty to provide clean water and electricity to these villagers who are living in poverty-stricken conditions.

Catching rainwater
According to Kong, all the basic facilities in Sabah were in “bad shape or completely lacking”.
“How is it possible that after 48 years of nation-building there are still large groups of people in Sabah who are still without any clean water and electricity supply although the villages are residing at places which are only 20 to 30 minutes by road away from the present Paitan mini-secretariat.
“The roads are almost unserviceable at times during rainy days and one bridge is on the verge of collapse.
“The river is so polluted because of the plantation and logging activities upstream.
“But the people in Paitan have no choice but to use the brownish water taken from the river for domestic purposes.
“Villagers told me that for drinking purpose they rely solely on rain water and the clean water pool at the culvert outflow.
“That (the outflow) has been reserved by the villagers for domestic use such as cooking and drinking water, especially when rainwater collected runs out,” he said.
Encroaching on NCR land
On land issues, Kong, who was in Kampung Simpang to talk on native customary rights (NCR) over land, said the already poor people in Paitan had now also fallen prey to logging and plantation companies encroaching into their ancestral land.
He said logging was rampant in the area and clear felling was being practised by timber companies without checks by the authorities.
He wants the state and federal governments to immediately look into the plight of the villagers and stop alienating massive acreages of land to individuals, which will only drive the people deeper into poverty.
“As for me, I had only a glimpse of their life as a visitor which humbled me.
“But the poor people in Paitan have no choice but to live their life there everyday – from the day they were born to the day they die.
“The development carried out by the BN government using public fund such as the extravagant state administrative centre costing taxpayers some RM388 million meant nothing at all to the people,” Kong said.

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