KOTA BARU: Although Kelantan voters gave Pakatan Harapan a knockout blow in the 14th General Election, the coalition which captured Putrajaya is apparently determined not to sideline the state that as been under PAS rule for almost three decades.
Pakatan lost deposits in two-thirds of the 45 state seats and nine out of the 14 parliamentary seats it contested in GE14, but is not using its humiliating defeat as an excuse to leave the state high and dry.
To showcase its commitment, the new Pakatan-controlled Federal Government allocated an additional RM200mil for Kelantan's development programmes this year, bringing the total to RM1.4bil.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had affirmed during a recent East Coast Economic Region (ECER) meeting that priority would be given to five high-impact infrastructure projects in the state.
The projects include construction of East Coast Highway Phase 3 stretching 150km from Gemuruh in Kuala Terengganu to Tumpat, the completion of the 123km-long Kota Baru-Kuala Krai Highway, construction of a new Pasir Puteh-Machang-Jeli route to bypass the congested Kota Baru, construction of the Palekbang-Kota Baru flyover as an alternative route to Tumpat to avoid congestion in the capital city, and upgrading as well as expansion of Sultan Ismail Petra Airport.
Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob (pic) has also expressed his gratitude to the Federal Government for including Kota Baru and Bachok in the revised RM44bil East Coast Railway Link project.
With the upgraded Tok Bali Port in Pasir Puteh, as well as with improved air and terrestrial links, Kelantan could capitalise on China's Belt and Road Initiative to further tap its potential as a new regional and global economic growth area.
Traditionally, Kelantanese have earned a reputation among the business fraternity of being an “enterprising lot”.
The PAS-led Kelantan state government has formulated and implemented syariah-compliant economic development models and guidelines to promote socio-economic growth and equitable wealth distribution.
Kelantan believes it can take its existing economic schemes to greater heights if the Federal Government fulfils its election promise to provide petroleum royalty to the state, a pledge which Dr Mahathir has reaffirmed.
But while Terengganu has started enjoying petroleum royalty, Kelantan is still waiting for the outcome of a court decision on its application to withdraw its suit against Petronas and the Federal Government.
The suit was filed in 2010 by then Mentri Besar Nik Aziz Nik Mat through lawyer Tommy Thomas (who is now the Attorney General) for breach of contract in denying the state its royalty.
In March, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said that the Federal Government would channel petroleum royalty payment to Kelantan after the civil suit withdrawal proceeding was settled in court.
Kelantan PAS secretary Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi, who is also the Tumpat MP, said he hopes the Federal Government will honour its promises.
“So far we hear only rhetoric minus action,” he alleged.