“Plus” Points for Sarawak in the Malaysia’s 2016 Budget

The Malaysian Borneo States were the highlights of the country’s 2016 budget. It seems that Sarawak’s Chief Minister, Adenan Satem had played the right cards all along; backing the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak during the turmoil of the MYR 2.6 billion “donation”, the focused wailing citizens of Peninsular Malaysia outraged by the news of this “donation”, the discrete but nevertheless bold retaliating remarks made by the then Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia (2009-2015), Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who in my opinion did not set the right tone for me, at least as the successor of my nation; the way that he only made his remark after the highly-influential Tun Dr Mahathir presented a piece of his mind on the “donation” issue. Another red alert for me was the fact that Muhyiddin’s remark was in the presence a certain group of a certain racial background; implying to me, a hint of racial preference (and a pint of cowardly act as well. And on that note, a too sensitive of a topic here, let’s get out right now!). Then again, this is racial preference we are talking about; we cannot escape growing up with it. I dream of a day when Malaysian politic would finally drift away (voluntarily) from the need to excite racial delineation.

If I were to have an affinity for any Prime Ministers that Malaysian has had in the last two decades, it would have to be Dr M. To be fair, he did hold the post longer than his successor, Tun Dato’ Sri Haji Abdullah Ahmad Badawi; seems likely as well for the case of Datuk Seri Najib. Tun Dr. Mahathir gave something beyond political gains, interests, or policies; he gave Malaysian “Vision 2020”, a goal set at foreseeing the nation’s future through a successful development of economic and scientific advancement, a rather similar mindset to NASA but (literally) more down to earth. Explanation to this analogy would be something like while NASA pushes the boundaries into achieving the next frontier of space travel, Dr. M. pushes the frontier of the nation becoming a developed nation through a set of hurdles; the “MALAYSIA PLAN”.

The Malaysia’s 2016 Budget presented on Friday had RM115 million allocated for the Special Programme for Bumiputras in Sabah and Sarawak for Native Customary Rights (NCR) land mapping and perimeter surveys, aimed at empowering while at the same time enabling rightful owners to consider developing NCR lands commercially. Be prepared to see more oil palm estates soon enough.

Another RM70 million was designated as an interest-free loan to be managed by the Bank Simpanan Nasional (local government bank) for longhouse construction. LONGHOUSE CONSTRUCTION! Here, it was also added that this feature would benefit over 60 per cent of Sarawak’s population of 2.4 million residing in rural areas. As a nation gearing towards achieving the developed nation status, this point in the budget was scrutinised as incongruous. It was like taking two steps forward and one step back. As depicted in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, the federal government is held responsible for providing health, education, as well as works and power infrastructure for its states. In Sabah and Sarawak, these features are still lackadaisical. Look carefully at this point in the budget; it is for the construction of new units of a longhouse, of up to RM50, 000 for each unit of a brand new longhouse, not renovation. With that being said, I do not have the number of how many requests for new longhouses or construction materials for longhouses on a ‘per annum’ basis; so I might have underestimated the need for new longhouses in Sarawak. If you were to put health infrastructure in the vicinity of the longhouses, you are bound to be able to provide healthcare for the rural residents, bound to be allocating a health inspector or advisor to comment on sanitary, hygienic, and clean living environment to the rural residents. Pursuing the developed nation status would be more viable if proper education facilities and staff are designated within the vicinity of the rural residents. On top of that, supplying subsidised power and easier execution of access for basic human rights to clean drinking water in rural residents would further impel the nation to its main objective.

It is not all that bad. Another point in the budget was to strengthen the food supply chain for Sabah and Sarawak with the introduction (for the first time) of a hill paddy subsidy, with an allocation of RM70 million; aimed at benefitting paddy farmers in Sabah and Sarawak. Knowing that the economy is not on our side at the moment, it is understandable that this point was made for the immediate assistance of the rural population; relying heavily on what little land and fertile soils they have to produce food and tradable commodities. This is one of many points in the budget that the nation is coping with the poor economic development. Though one still has to wonder the need to continue the subsidy that is the “1Malaysia” series.

Another plus point in the 2016 budget is the allocation of the RM262 million to finance the cost of transportation and enforcement of price control on essential goods, especially in Sabah and Sarawak. Unfortunately, I do not know the chains involved within this transportation and enforcement of price control. For Sarawakian, hey, at least mee kolok is now zero GST {insert pogchamp here}



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