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Expectations are high for the Sarawakians and they cannot be blamed for wanting pleasant surprises from Badawi on his visit to Sarawak on Tuesday next. Sarawak is lagging behind in development and the federal government is responsible for the short comings. Matters like rural development, high transportation costs, and better oil royalty are some of the things the people are clamouring for to get from the Prime Minister.

Whatever it is, Badawi may not be in a Santa Claus mood this time after his visit to Sabah last week. Lim Kit Siang in his blog entry says the high increase in oil price could have been the cause for giving away goodies to the state. Perhaps Badawi will tread softly now and think before agreeing to concessions in Sarawak. We have to wait and see.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 (Bernama) – Sarawakians are hoping for some pleasant surprises from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when he makes a one-day visit to the Land of the Hornbill on Tuesday.
They hope the “Gawai goodies” are similar to those announced by the Prime Minister for the Sabahans during the Kaamatan festival last week.
Member of Parliament for Santubong Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who is also Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker, said: “We are expecting nothing less that what Sabah gets.
“It is only natural that we are hoping to get about the same. We are not going to ask what he is going to give but what he is going to offer to Sarawak,” he said.
His colleague from Bintulu and also Barisan Nasional Backbencher Club chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said he hoped Abdullah would address the lack for funds for infrastructure projects in rural areas.
He said although there no such a demand, the Sarawakians were hoping the Federal Government would understand their need for rural development.
Datuk Billy Abit Joo of Hulu Rejang shared Tiong’s sentiments and said the policy makers should not perceive that the rural folks in Sarawak were okay with their situation though they were not making demands.
“The development for rural areas is for basic human needs. They need every assistance from the Federal Government to build clinics and other basic infrastructure.
“In Sarawak, we don’t talk so much about position. Sarawakians are too polite sometimes, hoping that people will understand their needs,” he said. Last week, Abdullah unveiled several measures to be taken by the Federal Government to address some of the major problems faced by Sabah.
They include the setting up of Sabah State Development Office in place of the Sabah Federal Development Department, a RM1 billon special allocation for rural development and the formation of a Cabinet committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to overcome Sabahs long standing illegal immigrant and refugee problem.
Sarawakians also hope Abdullah would address the high cost of transportation especially following the fuel price increase on Wednesday despite Sarawak being one of the major oil producing states with large oil fields.
Although they understand that the global oil price is beyond the government’s control, many feel a bigger subsidy should be extended to the Sarawakians.
Among other things, Sarawak is expected to benefit from a Federal Government plan to introduce standard prices for nine control items namely sugar, petrol, diesel, steel, cement, wheat flour, condensed milk, chicken and cooking oil.
Meanwhile during the visit, the Prime Minister is expected to announce the appointment a Sarawakian senior government official as the new Federal Sarawak Financial Officer.
Ahead of Abdullah’s visit, some community leaders interviewed by local dailies voiced their dissatifaction and even questioned, for example, why the state did not get better deal in oil royalty.
“They (Federal Government) should give us more than five per cent. It’s very hard to understand why they won’t increase this sum to allow our State Government to push other industries like agriculture,” said one of them named Kapitan Chan.
“Has the Federal Government ever wondered why people in rural areas need four-wheel-drive vehicles?” said Wee Hong Seng, Sarawak Tourism Federation president.
“It’s not that these rural folk are rich. It’s a necessity given the terrible road infrastructure. So now these people will be penalised further,” he added.
The State Government is expected to raise the issue of high transportation cost in sending fuel and food to smaller towns and remote areas in Sarawak during Abdullah’s visit.
Sarawak is heavily dependant on road and riverine transport to carry food and other essentials to its population while rural schools, longhouses and villages rely heavily on fuel for their power generators as they are not connected to the state power grid.
This is common in rural areas such as Medamit in Ulu Limbang to Baram, Bario, Ba’ Kelalan, Marudi, Bintulu, Sibu, Kapit and Julau.
“The Federal Government needs to be advised properly on the matter. The interior people must be assisted.
“Federal officers must look at Kapit, Song and Bario and work out plans how to help these people,” said John Sikie, State Assemblyman for Kakus.

Sarawakians Expect Gawai Goodies From PM :: Bernama.com

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