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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Taib’s development priorities ‘all wrong’, says Bian

Chief Minister Taib Mahmud's dismissal of the opposition as not knowing the 'meaning of development' has rattled political leaders.

KUCHING: Where does religious freedom fit in with Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s ‘policy of development’ which has, despite his 30 years at the helm, left indigenous Sarawakians landless and thousands of Dayak-inhabited longhouses in rural Sarawak without treated water, electricity and roads?

Affronted by Taib’s assertion, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said Taib who made the comment while talking about building hotels and supermarkets, had got his ‘priorites all wrong.’

“These are wrong priorities. What the government should have done is to build a hospital for Lawas. The proposal to build the hospital was approved many years ago by the Federal Government and has never gotten off the ground.

“Last year when there were rumours of election, some work movements were seen at the same place and location.

“(But) after looking at the logistics and rentals, it did not materialise. My point is that the state BN government has got its priority all wrong.

“It is not prioritizing the people’s needs. Instead of building hospitals and repairing schools, the government is building super markets and hotels,” Bian said, alluding to the latest incident where a student dormitory in Lawas was recently razed in a fire as a result of a short circuit.

According to Bian the headmaster had allegedly complained several times to the authorities about the electrical wiring in the primary school dormitory.

“I was informed that the headmaster had complained many times … but now the dormitory has burnt down. This is neglect of the very basic needs of the people,” he said, questioning the quality and integrity of Barisan Nasional elected representatives, especially Dayak leaders.

Religious freedom

According to Bian, BN Dayak leaders who were party to Taib’s ‘policy of develoment’ had failed to speak up on issues affecting the people, especially the curtailment of the freedom of Christians in the state to practice their faith.

“What type of elected representatives do we have? They are supposed to ‘wakil the rakyat’ (to represent and speak on behalf the people). But they have failed miserably.

“They should be bold to speak for the people’s religious freedom and should emulate Bernard Dompok’s example.

“He (Dompok) spoke twice against the action to curb our religious freedom which is guaranteed in the constitution,” he said.

Bian dared BN Dayak leaders to speak up for Christians and religious freedom in the state.

“No one will dare accept my challenege.

“Our Dayak elected leaders are scared that they may not be nominated as candidates in the coming election; they are scared that they may be reprimanded by their bosses,” said Bian, pointing out that religious freedom is very crucial to Sarawakians and Christians.

Asserting Pakatan Rakyat’s stand on religious freedom, Bian said the coalition’s leaders had made strong statements against the seizure of the bibles.

“Let the Sarawakian Christians know that Pakatan Rakyat is open and has given its guarantee that when it forms the government, it will protect religious freedom.

“That is our stand,” he said adding that the basic needs of the people of Sarawak were among the core issues included in the Pakatan’s manifesto which will be launched on Friday. - FMT

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