What ‘bread and butter’ is Taib talking about?

By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has slammed Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud’s call for Sarawakians to focus on “bread and butter issues” and to be wary of “people who tried to brainwash them.”

The native customary land rights lawyer said Taib should first declare the names of those who own the timber concessions, quarry and oil palm plantation licenses and who benefitted from the many government contracts that were awarded arbitrarily, before advising people on “bread and butter.”

“First the CM should openly name the people who benefitted from these development projects that he speaks off. Only a select few have benefitted, not the ordinary citizens

“We want the bread and butter to reach the tables of the people, and not end up on the gravy train,” he said.

Lambasting Taib’s disclosure that Sarawak had achieved “great progress” and had “become prosperous”, Bian demanded to know why then was Sarawak the fourth poorest state in the country when it was the richest in natural resources.

“Let us be reminded that the funding of projects and development in the country or state comes from the coffers of the country and state, as well as taxes paid by the people. The funding does not come from the personal pockets of the CM and BN leaders.

“Let us be clear that it is the duty and responsibility of the government of the day to utilise and manage the coffers of the state for the benefit of the people. Development is not a choice. It is imperative and a right to be enjoyed by the rakyat,” he said.

“Even the worse totalitarian regimes in the world had to develop their countries, what more Malaysia and in particular Sarawak which purportedly practises parliamentary democracy,” he added.

What track record?

Bian was commenting on Taib’s call on Sarawakians not take development for granted and to be careful about who they choose to lead them.

“Needless to say, PKR and Pakatan Rakyat will offer good governance, better management of the state’s wealth, transparency, fair and equitable distribution of wealth, and implement an open tender system for all government projects and contracts,” he said.

Bian also had his own take on Taib’s interpretation of development.

“What is the track record and success rate of the BN government in executing the responsibility of developing the state?

“How has the government discharged its duties in the last 30 years … why is that Sarawak, being the richest state in Malaysia in terms of natural resources, ends up the fourth poorest state in Malaysia?