Sarawak Pakatan chief denies CM’s claims about school repair deal

Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur April 8, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen speaks to reporters at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur April 8, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUCHING, Feb 19 — Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen today denied Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg’s allegation that Putrajaya reneged on an agreement to fix dilapidated schools in the state.

He said Abang Johari should have asked the state’s Public Work Department (PWD) about the progress or delay in repairs before accusing the federal government.

“The repair  works from the RM350 million allocation was right from the beginning managed by the state PWD and the 37 schools to be repaired were also chosen by the state government,” he said in a statement this evening.

Yesterday, the chief minister accused Putrajaya of reneging on the agreement to fix dilapidated schools despite the RM700 million advance repayments by the state government on loans it owed to the federal government.

He had said not a single dilapidated school has been fixed.

The chief minister said the first loan repayment was made last year while another RM350 million on February 7 this year.

Under the agreement with Putrajaya, the state government would make advance payments for RM1 billion of its loans with Putrajaya.

Chong, who is also the Sarawak DAP chairman and deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, said the Ministry of Finance (MoF) issued a letter on August 5 last year authorising the Ministry of Education (MoE) to carry out the preparatory work on the implementation of repair of the dilapidated schools projects in Sarawak.

He said MoE issued a letter the following day informing the Works Ministry to go ahead with the preparation for the implementation of repair works of dilapidated schools projects.

“A quick check with the state PWD yesterday on the repair projects of the 37 dilapidated schools revealed that two school projects have been awarded tender on January 14 this year.

“Work has begun and according to the contract, the repair work is expected to be completed in July, 2021,” he said.

Chong said four school projects were awarded five days ago and expected to be completed in August next year.

He said 15 school projects will be awarded in March 2020 and expected to be completed in September 2021.

He said tenders will be called next month on another 16 school projects after the state PWD and state Education Department have reviewed their value and scope.

“The awards of the tenders for these 16 schools are expected to be in May, 2020 and work expected to be completed in November next year,” he said.

“Looking at the progress of these 37 school repair projects, I do not think that the state PWD is delaying the projects to sabotage federal-funded projects,” he said.

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