KUCHING, July 1 ― Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s (GPS) Backbenchers Club today dismissed as untrue the allegations made by pro-Keadilan Sarawak chairman Iswardy Morni that the state government has run out of funds to the point that it is unable to assist those affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

It said the state government has always exercised financial prudence and has been able to maintain good financial ratings from notable credit rating agencies worldwide.

“This is reflected in its ability to roll out several forms of assistance to the people through the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) which is worth more than RM4.5 billion distributed through from BKSS 1.0 to 6.0,” the club said in a statement when responding to Iswardi’s allegations on Facebook.

It said in BKSS 6.0, the state government also provided allocations for the BKSS food aid programme distributed to residents affected by the movement control order (MCO) in all 82 state constituencies worth RM35.5 million.

“This is on top of the current expenditure to manage the spread of Covid-19 in the state which included quarantines, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) sand procurements of the equipment needed by the medical frontliners,” the club said, adding that claims the state government is penniless are untrue and an accusation that is not backed by any facts and figures.

The club also said that the track record of the state government, whether in terms of financial management or its initiative to lessen the burden of the people, speaks for itself, saying that this is evident in the last year-and-a-half when the pandemic reached the state’s shores.

It also said the GPS’ elected representatives have continued doling out assistance and relief to their constituents.

The club also asked Iswardy whether he has been on the ground and render his services to the people affected by the pandemic or whether he been too busy bickering on social media, making baseless accusations within the comforts of his home in Malaya and away from the reality and hardship of the locals in Sarawak.

“The constituents, the locals in Sarawak know who are on the ground and who are not. While the smear tactics may work for your gullible audiences in Malaya, it won’t work here,” the club said.

On June 1, Iswardy pleaded not guilty at the Sessions Court to a charge of issuing a statement on his Facebook page which was deemed seditious and allegedly insulting the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Iswardy, 44, is alleged to have issued the statement via the “Iswardy Morni Official” Facebook page, which contained seditious words with a tendency to insult the King, at the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department here, at 3pm on May 29.

The charge was framed under Section 4 (1) (a) of the Sedition Act 1948 and is punishable under Section 4 (1) of the same Act which provides for a fine of up to RM5,000, or imprisonment for a maximum of three years, or both, upon conviction.