Monday, 24 May 2010

Sabah villagers find a sympathetic listener in Lim

KOTA KINABALU: Villagers in the east coast of Sabah who have problems getting the government’s attention have an international stage to turn to, said DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang.
Speaking to villagers of Kg Murut, Kalabakan in Tawau, Lim said the world now knows about the plight of the natives of Sabah.
He told the villagers that he had put out information (on his blog, among others) on issues affecting the natives of Sabah, including dispossession of their lands.
During his visit, a group of more than 50 villagers brought their complaints about the poor conditions they were living in and their worries about how they would soon become landless.
They claimed that much of their ancestral lands had already been taken over by plantation companies.

Lim, the Ipoh Timur MP, and several other DAP and PAS leaders arrived in the east coast state last Sunday on a fact-finding mission.

The delegation comprised senator Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim, MPs for Serdang and Segambut, Teo Nie Ching and Lim Lip Eng and MP for Kota Kinabalu, Dr Hiew King Cheu, Sri Tanjung State assemblyman, Jimmy Wong and Tawau PAS chief Mohd Hassan.
Sabah DAP publicity secretary Dr Edwin Bosi said Lim had also assured them that he would raise their grievances at the next Parliamentary sitting.
“He (Lim) was sympathetic towards their plight and urged them to consider changing the government, saying that a Pakatan Rakyat government could give them and their children a better future.
“One woman who manages a stall told him (Lim) about the poor healthcare facilities and complained about the high cost of getting water and electricity supply. She claimed that it would cost her more than RM1,000 just to install a meter for electricity supply,” said Bosi.
Bumpy ride
Meanwhile, Lim also took the opportunity to highlight the deplorable condition of the main highway linking Sapalut to Kalabakan.
“It’s a rip-off,” he said as he travelled along the dusty, bumpy, gravel Sapalut-Kalabakan highway on the east coast of Sabah.
The project was a ‘design and build’ contract costing RM565 million and was supposed to be a 179 kilometres of permanent bituminous road.
The contractor was tasked with providing the design, scope of work and specifications to be approved by the government and built according to the approved design.
The government awarded the contract at the negotiated sum of RM565 million for 179 kilometres of sealed road with bituminous pavement.
The project was supposed to have been completed in early 2008 but the Auditor-General’s Report of the same year stated that the project had not achieved its objective.
Before the ‘design and build’ contract was given out, the existing road was a gravel road, built and maintained by timber operators for logging activities.
In March this year, the state government said that it had applied for an additional allocation of RM200 million to finance the Sapalut-Kalabakan project under the 10th Malaysia Plan.
Meanwhile, accusations of sub-standard work and poor quality workmanship have persisted.
Even in 2008, several of the newly-completed works were already in deplorable condition, according to engineers.
Based on the Auditor-General’s Report, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was urged in mid-2008 to investigate several irregularities.
Lim is not the first person to point to irregularities in the costly road project.
In 2008, senior PKR leader for Sabah Kong Hong Ming who is also an engineer said: “It is shocking and outrageous that the government could accept a RM566 million contract for 179 kilometres of bituminous trunk road only to end up with 179 kilometres of gravel road.”
Kong lodged two reports with the MACC (then known as the ACA) office at Tawau on July 3, 2008 and again at the ACA office in the state capital on Aug 11, 2008 listing out the many irregularities in the newly-completed road but no action has been taken thus far.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 04 May 2010 08:26)