Altercation in Sarawak assembly over alternative financing

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who is also the second minister of finance, touched on alternative financing in his winding up speech when Chong stood up to seek clarification.― Picture by Sulok Tawie
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who is also the second minister of finance, touched on alternative financing in his winding up speech when Chong stood up to seek clarification.― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Nov 13 — An altercation broke out in the Sarawak State Assembly between Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah and DAP’s Kota Sentosa State Assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen over the state government’s proposal to raise funds through alternative financing.

Uggah, who is also the second minister of finance, touched on alternative financing in his winding up speech when Chong stood up to seek clarification.

“We have heard that the state government is going to raise funds through alternative financing model, that is, borrowing from the private sector and capital market.

“How much will be borrowed through this mechanism as I have gone through what was proposed by the chief minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg in the state’s budget 2020) to be RM22 billion.

“The proposed development expenditure is only RM6.5 billion while the proposed total expenditure is RM9 billion, that is, an excess of RM13 billion of the amount that is going to be approved today to be paid from the state coffer.

“In other words, going by what was mentioned by the chief minister, at least RM13 billion is going to be borrowed through the capital market and private sectors through your alternative financing model.

“Would it not be risky and very indiscreet for a government to borrow such a huge sum when your development budget is only RM6.5 billion? You are borrowing about RM13 billion, that is, double amount of your development expenditure,” Chong asked.

Uggah replied that the chief minister will elaborate in his winding up speech later.

“But these are not necessary if Kota Sentosa (Chong) had kept his promise to give us 20 per cent of the oil royalty and 50 per cent of the taxes collected in Sarawak, but you never keep your promise,” he said.

He said there is also the withdrawal of funds for infrastructure projects, like bridges and roads, by the federal government.

“Thirdly, if you have fought hard enough for Sarawak then this issue (alternative financing) does not arise, but for us in GPS government, it is necessary,” he said as GPS state lawmakers were heard shouting “bula” (lying), “paloi” (stupid) and “ulun” (slave) at the Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmakers.

Uggah refused to yield to Chong.

“I am not giving you the floor. I have not finished yet. Standiing Order 33 is very clear. If I don’t give way, you cannot stand up,” he said, amidst shouts from both sides of the house.

“The chief minister is a responsible leader. He adheres to the policy of prudence and the principle of accountability.

“It is Lim Guan Eng (the federal finance minister) who will go bankrupt, not us. Now, we know the truth who advised Guan Eng, who came here and told Sarawakians that we will go bankrupt. These (DAP state assemblymen) are the advisors,” Uggah said.

“You are the traitors to Sarawak because of your ignorance,” he shouted.

Chong protested at the allegation.

Speaker Datuk Amar Asfia Awang Nasar told Chong that the minister is only responding to the questions that he has raised.

“If you don’t want him to answer, then don’t raise the questions. He is only responding,” he told Chong.

Related Articles