‘In Sibu it’s cronies first, people last, performance none’

By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Sarawak DAP has questioned the motive behind a decision by the Barisan Nasional state government to pay contractors to dredge the Rajang River.

“It should be the other way round, that is, the contractors should pay the government,” said state chairman Wong Ho Leng who alleged that the contractors were political cronies of the BN government.

Wong said the state government should follow the administrations in Penang and Selangor who are being paid by the contractors for dredging the rivers.

“In the case of Sarawak, the contractors are killing two birds with one stone: receiving the money from the government and selling the sand which is an essential material for housing projects.

“And the contractors are the BN’s political cronies,” he alleged.

Wong, who is also the MP for Sibu, was responding to a news item in the local media which quoted Wong Soon Koh, Minister of Environment and Public Health as saying that the state government has identified five bottleneck areas that have led to flooding in Sibu.

“But the government will focus only on Kerto and Sungai Sadit as these two are among the most critical bottlenecks and therefore receive priority attention,” said Soon Koh, who is also the second Finance Minister.

He announced that the Federal Irrigation and Drainage Department had included RM30 million for the preliminary survey and preparation of the necessary documentation for the implementation of the project.

Commenting on this, Wong said it was wrong for the government to pay the contractors.

“We want the contractors to pay the government and this money should be given to Sarawakians for the purpose of education, agricultural activities and other welfare services.

“We want the BN government in Sarawak to make sure not only the Rejang River but also other rivers in Sarawak are  dredged in order to reduce the frequency of floods.

“I’m sure the contractors are prepared to pay provided there is an open tender, transparency and accountability,” he said.

Flood woes

According to Soon Koh, the amount of silt coming down from the upper reaches of the Rejang River and its tributaries was estimated to be 60 million metric tones per annum based on the 2001 data.