Hornbill Unleashed

November 11, 2017

Baru: Providing basic facilities should still be the priority

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

Image result for Baru BianTHE emphasis on digital economy and the eagerness to follow in the footsteps of Estonia, which is becoming the ‘leading force of digitisation in the world’, should not be taken at the expense of improving basic infrastructure and facilities for Sarawakians.

Baru Bian (PKR-Ba Kelalan) said it was incongruous to talk about explosion of technological advancement and digital revolution when many of the rural folk are still being educated in dilapidated schools, isolated from the major towns by poor roads, drinking untreated water, having poor access to healthcare, and no access to grid electricity.

“What does the digital economy mean to the rural population? What does e-commerce offer them when they do not even have proper roads to send their produce to the towns?

“It is well and good to be ambitious, but are the conditions in Sarawak the same as those in Estonia,” he said when debating the budget speech yesterday.

Baru concurred that Estonia is a small country and one of the freest economies in the world, having excellent transportation links, strong rule of law with an independent and efficient

judicial system, low public debt/GDP ratio, high regulatory efficiency focusing on enhancing labor productivity and employment growth, and most interestingly, a superior education system based on equity, that is giving equal opportunities to students from all backgrounds.

He said Sarawak still has a long way to go before the government can claim to meet the same conditions that exist in Estonia.

“We need to first put in place the physical infrastructure. For example, when China decided to embrace modernisation, the first thing it did was to build roads.

“As I pointed out in this august House in 2012, a World Bank paper states that ‘highway construction can be conceived as the laying of a ‘prerequisite’ for further development.

“As such, it permits and invites, rather than compel, other activities to follow suit.”

Baru said a good road infrastructure in Sarawak is sorely needed but after so many years of promises, the people are still putting up with the sub-standard roads, yet the leaders want to leapfrog into the digital era.

“The state government must not leave the rural folk behind in its eagerness to be the second Estonia, and the government must put more emphasis on uplifting the economic prosperity and the lives of the rural population.

“If there is a Pan Borneo Highway along the coast, I propose for a parallel highway in the hinterland of Sarawak,” he said.

Baru applauded the government for allocating 53 per cent of the development budget to the rural areas. He noted that on improving connectivity, the RM409 million was earmarked mostly for building bridges.

“But, I was disappointed to note that no mention was made of better roads for the highlands and the interior of Sarawak.

“The chief minister noted that one of the contributors to the expected higher revenue for 2018 is hill timber premium.

“It is truly a bitter pill for the people of the rural highlands that their forests are contributing to the coffers of the government, but their needs are receiving little attention in return,” he lamented.

Source : The Borneo Post Online



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