KUCHING, Oct 24 — Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Youth chief Michael Tiang slammed Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian for criticising SUPP’s convention resolution, when the latter had done nothing for Sarawak when he was in the Federal Cabinet for 22 months.
Tiang said when the Public Works Ministry was under Baru’s purview last time, the federal government had cancelled several bridge projects in Sarawak — namely the 5km Batang Lupar bridge worth RM1 billion, 1.34km Batang Igan bridge (RM310.8 million), and 0.6km Batang Rambungan bridge (RM142.2 million).
“Until today, although Baru Bian has since jumped from PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat) over to join PSB (Parti Sarawak Bersatu), he has never offered any explanation to Sarawakians on why as a Sarawakian federal Minister of Public Works, these bridge projects in Sarawak had been cancelled. His silence on Sarawak’s project loss of about RM1.5 billion is still deafening,” said Tiang in a statement issued on Thursday.
“While he (Baru) is pointing fingers at SUPP by accusing SUPP for failing to fight for the establishment of state sovereign fund in the past, I want Baru Bian — our former federal minister — to tell Sarawakians where was he when Sarawak government was claiming our rights of sales taxes over petroleum products in Sarawak, particularly our claims against Petronas. I would like to remind Baru Bian that his party (PSB) president Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh was the Minister of Finance II of Sarawak from 2006 to 2019.
“Yet, Datuk Sri Wong did not support (Batu Lintang assemblyman) See Chee How when See mooted the motion to set up a state sovereign fund in 2014. Baru Bian should confront his party president first before blaming others for not supporting See in the State Legilative Assembly (DUN) then. Similarly, Tiang said Sarawak Sales Tax Ordinance was passed and came into law in 1998. The sovereign fund should be meant for the money derived from Sales Tax, which was implemented last year. In 2014, there was no additional fund for the state to set up a sovereign fund for such purpose.
However, through the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg and his Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led government, Sarawak successfully claimed its sales tax rights over petroleum products in the courts of law, said Tiang, adding that since then, the state had collected over RM3 billion of sales tax from petroleum companies.
“Therefore, SUPP believes now is the right time to set up a sovereign fund to ensure our future generations will continue to benefit from the oil and gas revenue even after the depletion of oil and gas resources,” said Tiang.
Earlier, Baru had criticised SUPP over its proposal to set up a sovereign fund for Sarawak as the party had kept silent when it was first mooted by See.
Baru said it was embarrassing to read that SUPP had resolved to urge the state government to set up the fund to ‘ensure that the future generations would continue to benefit from the oil and gas revenues, even after the depletion of our oil and gas resources”.
Baru, a PSB presidential council member, had asked if SUPP had just ‘awoken from its slumber’ due to the anticipated state polls, when it made the proposal as part of its resolution at its party convention last weekend.
“SUPP leaders must be suffering from political amnesia or running out of ideas on how to bring Sarawak to greater heights, despite being in the state government for the past 47 years,” said Baru in a statement issued earlier yesterday. — Borneo Post Online