Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri has accused Sarawak DAP of having an anti-rural development agenda following criticism against the soon-to-be-opened Batang Sadong bridge.
A comment by Padungan Assemblyman Wong King Wei yesterday hit a raw nerve as it disputed Nancy’s statement that the bridge would cut travel time from Kuching to Sibu by two-and-a-half hours from the current total of eight hours.
“The Sarawak DAP’s anti-rural development agenda, contrary to their ‘Impian Sarawak Campaign’, has resurfaced once again.
“Barely two years ago, the Sarawak DAP Chairman (Chong Chien Jen) had questioned the state Barisan Nasional government in the State Legislative Assembly for seeking an additional RM500 million development budget for accelerating the rural development in the state.
“As politicians, we in BN may forgive Wong King Wei and his party for their ignorance, but not the people in the rural constituency.
“Wong’s comments have proven their ignorance of the rural community’s wishes for development to reach their doorstep,” Nancy said.
She was responding to Wong’s comments to FMT yesterday, in which he said that based on DAP’s own calculations, the travel time using the Batang Sadong bridge may not be shorter, but longer due to the ferry services that have to be used.
“By using the Batang Sadong bridge, you can only shorten the length travelled by 70-80km.
“In terms of time travelled, we can reasonably assume that it can be shortened by about an hour.
“But that shortening of one hour does not include the time it would take to cross another two rivers — Batang Lupar and Batang Saribas.”
Wong had said road users would have to use the ferries to cross these two rivers should they opt to use the new bridge.
Nancy said Wong had failed to understand that the bridge will also help to bring greater economic activity “to her constituency and surrounding coastal areas in the state”.
She admitted the Batang Sadong bridge will shorten travelling time by one hour, but it will be 70-80km shorter.
Motorists from Kuching can proceed to Simunjan, Sebuyau, and the surrounding coastal areas, up to Batang Lupar.
Wong told FMT yesterday his party supported the construction of a bridge to span Batang Lupar as it was “promised” in the 2011 state election.
The allocation for the bridge was approved by Prime Minister Najib Razak, just prior to the state election campaign in 2011.
Construction began on July 5, 2012 under the four-year contract. A two-month extension was later given.
The bridge will facilitate transportation for residents in Simunjan and Sebuyau heading to Kuching.
FMT Reporters Online