In push for funds, Sarawak state and federal ministers trade barbs over ‘the boss’

Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman Baru Bian speaks to reporters in Kuching November 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Ba’Kelalan state assemblyman Baru Bian speaks to reporters in Kuching November 2019. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Nov 6 — A war of words broke out between Assistant Minister of Coastal Roads Datuk Juhaihi Narawai and Ba’Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian during Question Time in the Sarawak State Assembly this morning.

It all started when Julaihi, answering questions from Yussibnosh Balo (GPS-Telian), told Pakatan Harapan (PH) representatives in the federal government to “jangan takut boss” and get more funds for Sarawak.

He said many infrastructure projects, approved by Barisan Nasional (BN) government before last year’s general election being dropped after PH took Putrajaya.

As examples, Julaihi listed the proposed construction of bridges in Batang Lupar, Batang Igan and Batang Rambungan.

An upset Baru stood up and accused the state assistant minister of making improper remarks against another member and demanded Julaihi retract his remark.

Baru, who is also the federal works minister, said the infrastructure projects had been approved by the previous government without putting aside the money for them.

“There is no issue of being takut (afraid) of the boss. We are a responsible government and we will execute the projects within the financial capability of the federal government,” he said.

Julaihi then asked Baru to explain why the federal government had approved more projects in the peninsula if the funds were insufficient for Sarawak.

Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awang Nasar also intervened at this point and told Yussibnosh to pose his two supplementary questions for Juhaili.

Baru, who is also Selangau MP, later told reporters that he felt compelled to rebut the assistant minister because the latter made an “improper motive”.

“When you impute an improper motive, I have to stand up,” he said.

Baru added that he is not afraid of the “boss”, saying that in the federal Cabinet meetings, ministers had freedom of speech.

“There is no such thing of scared of the boss. When you look at your responsibilities as the Cabinet members, we discussed issues very openly.

“If you look at the Budget 2020, special focus has been put on Sarawak and Sabah,” he said.

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