Beauty vs health: Bian speaks of warped priorities

By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has accused a state minister of neglecting the medical needs of his constituents to concentrate on a beautification project for the Lawas town square and waterfront.

“The district hospital approved many years ago has been neglected; it is well overdue,” he said.

“Instead the minister gives priority to a facelift.”

He was referring to a recent announcement by Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, the Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management.

In that announcement, the minister said the first phase of the town square project would cost the government RM7 million and the waterfront project a further RM4 million.

Priority will be given to the RM35 million Seri Malaysia hotel situated on the waterfront. Attached to the hotel will be a shopping arcade.

Awang Tengah is the state assemblyman for Bukit Sari, the new name for the Lawas constituency.

Bian welcomed the proposals but questioned Awang Tengah’s timing and priorities.

He noted that the federal government could not proceed with the hospital project because the state had offered swampy land for it.

“As a result, the federal government is now forced to build the new hospital on the present site, and this has forced the medical department to rent shoplots,” Bian said.

One major issue, according to him, is that there is no mortuary.

New hospital

Bian asked whether the government would ever fulfil its promise to build a new hospital for the 50,000-odd people of Lawas and whether Awang Tengah felt that a hotel and shopping mall were more urgent than a hospital.

“This brings us to the crux of the issue,” he added. “What are the priorities for Lawas?”