Provide better facilities for the people

THE latest United Nations report on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights Issues states that Sarawak is a rich state but its rural people are still very poor and deprived of basic amenities.

That report was by the UN’s special envoy on human rights Prof Philip Alston.

He visited Sarawak last month as part of his working tour of Malaysia.

His report on Sarawak was part of his overall report on the national scenario in Malaysia.

Alston paid specific focus on Sarawak, Sabah and Kelantan - which he said are the poorest states in Malaysia.

In Sarawak, he said 15.9% of its population have a total monthly household income of less than RM2,000.

Among others, he also mentioned the sad state of affairs relating to dire lack of health facilities and schools throughout rural Sarawak.

This latest report by Alston is not a surprise to me.

I have travelled throughout Sarawak and have seen the poor conditions of schools, urban polyclinics and rural clinics in Sarawak getting from bad to worse.

Breakdown of facilities like the electronic numbering system, human congestion due to lack of space and lack of treatment rooms are quite normal at the Miri Polyclinic located right in the heart of Miri city.

I have also visited numerous rural schools and clinics in remote Baram, Belaga and Bakelalan districts before and found wooden facilities here rotting and left unattended.

They have no treated water and depend on rain, rivers and mountain water.

Their electricity supply is from diesel-powered generator sets that can only be used to light up lamps and other small electrical appliances.

I have been highlighting the sad state of affairs in these health facilities in both rural and urban settings.

Unfortunately, we Sarawakians have yet to hear state government leaders proposing any immediate measures to overcome these problems affecting thousands of people daily. State political leaders have said they had highlighted woes to the Federal government and awaiting measures to be taken as health and education issues are national matters.

I find it puzzling why the Sarawak government cannot do something fast using state funds.

After all, Sarawak is not a poor state. Figures show its primary resources of timber, palm oil, petroleum royalty and other minerals bring in about RM80bil in revenue annually.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Openg had also said the state’s treasury has RM33bil in reserves.

He keeps announcing plans to build multi-billion projects and has spoken many times publicly about digital multimedia connectivity plan for Sarawak that may include linking to China.

Johari had also announced a project to extract hydrogen gas from the water resources in Sarawak to generate hydrogen fuel for local use and export.

All these mega projects will cost billions of ringgit.

Therefore, I am sure a little bit from the billions can be used to upgrade polyclinics, rural clinics and schools.

The state’s leaders must use our resources wisely to benefit the people, especially the needy.
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