All groups, not just B40, need financial assistance during Covid-19, SUPP reminds govt

(MMO) – Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Youth leader Michael Tiang today reminded the federal government that all Malaysians need financial help, not just those in the B40 group to face the nation’s fragile economy brought upon by Covid-19.

He said the Budget 2021 presented in Parliament yesterday failed to offer financial assistance to other groups, such as the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“There is nothing wrong for the government to help B40 in the midst of this pandemic, but the government must be aware that the Covid-19 pandemic affects not only the livelihood of the lower-income groups, but all levels of society have been badly hit by the pandemic.

“We all need help regardless of what income groups we are being categorised under by the government,” said Tiang, who is also the political secretary to the chief minister.

He pointed out that the loan moratorium, which is automatic for B40 and micro industries should be extended to all.

“SMEs are struggling to retain their businesses.

“The disappointment from this Budget further resonates among Sarawakians when we are once again being allocated with a mere RM4.5 billion for state development projects.

“This federal allocation to Sarawak does not justify with the fact that Sarawak is one of the three equal partners in the Federation of Malaysia,” Tiang said.

Separately, Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) president Datuk John Lau Pang Heng said SPA is perturbed that the federal government did not focus on Chinese education, particularly in Sarawak where more and more parents are sending their children to vernacular schools.

He also questioned why there is an allocation of RM81.5 million to Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas (Jasa) of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia.

“Jasa’s role is just to explain government initiatives and programmes to the people. But the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government used it to as a political tool aimed against their political rivals,” Lau said when asked for his comment on the federal Budget.

Lau asked if the present Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government will also be using Jasa as a political tool or to explain the government initiatives and programmes.

He also questioned why there are no allocation for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) who are working with the police on crime prevention.

“In fact, the Sarawak Community Policing Association (SCPA) has been doing very well working with the authorities to reduce crime in Sarawak,” he said, adding that SCPA has been using its own solicited funds to do community policing programmes in the past years.

Lau, however, welcomed a proposed 1 per cent reduction in income tax for those earning between RM50,000 to RM70,000 per year.

“It is also good to note that the government is paying attention to human capital development by allocating RM1 billion for reskilling and upskilling programmes to build a competent workforce,” he said.