BINTULU: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has given the assurance that federal projects in Sarawak will proceed, regardless of the state government.
He said as far as the federal government was concerned, Sarawak was part of Malaysia and the state’s development was Putrajaya’s responsibility.
“We would, of course, prefer a government that is friendly – that is of the same party as the federal (Pakatan Harapan) government.
“But whether it is a different or same government, federal projects in Sarawak will go on,” he told reporters after attending a closed-door briefing on the progress of federal development projects in the state here yesterday.
Asked on the state government’s offer of RM1bil to the federal government to be used to rebuild dilapidated schools in the state, he said it was a loan.
“I think they (state government) wanted to lend it to us but the state government also owes us money.
“We would prefer if they just pay the money they owe us. They have lots of money and the budget for Sarawak is the biggest in Malaysia at RM11bil (next year),” Dr Mahathir said.
He also hoped that the Sarawak government would not be too demanding about the oil royalties to the state.
Sarawak has demanded oil royalties of 5% from the federal government to be increased to 20% as part of the state’s special rights as enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
On the rebuilding and upgrading of 116 dilapidated schools involving an allocation of RM443.5mil this year, he said it took slightly longer to get the building materials.
On Saturday, during the launch of Sarawak Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, Dr Mahathir said rural Sarawakians had been left too far behind when people in every state should enjoy progress and development.
“The federal government is still helping Sarawak a lot but the development funds have not been fairly distributed.
“Sarawak is actually the richest state in Malaysia. But the money and resources have not reached all rakyat in Sarawak,” said Dr Mahathir, who is also Pribumi chairman, during the launch at the Bintulu Civic Centre.
Saying that he was encouraged by the strong show of support from Sarawakians, he said Sabah, Sarawak and the peninsula needed to work together.
He promised that Bersatu would fight for social and economic justice for all races in Sarawak.
“Bersatu is meant for Malays. We accept non-bumis as members in Sarawak but limit their authority in the party,” Dr Mahathir said. — Bernama
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