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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wong gets a roasting for ‘lip service’

SIBU: Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) leaders are rubbing their hands in glee after rival state DAP chief Wong Ho Leng failed to meet the deadline set by the Drainage and Irrigation Department for tenders to dredge the voluminous Rejang river and ease Sibu’s flood woes.

Wong had, last year, promised to engage experts from China and the United States to prepare a proposal and pitch for a license to dredge the river.

Drubbing Wong, SUPP deputy-secretary general Wong Soon Koh said the DAP leader had ‘let the people in Sibu down’.

“Ho Leng made a promise and now he has let the people in Sibu down. I expect Wong Ho Leng will come up with tonnes of excuses.

“He boasted about engaging experts from China and the United States (US) to dredge Rajang River with the ultimate aim of solving flooding problems.

“He had also mentioned that the state governments in Penang and Selangor did not pay a single sen for dredging projects in both the states.

“It is high time he reveals how much the so-called contractors paid both Penang and Selangor state governments. Now that his lies have been exposed, people get to see his true colours.

“How is he going to face people in Sibu especially those who voted for him?” asked Soon Koh.

In a hotly contested parliamentary by-election in May last year, Wong defeated SUPP candidate Robert Lau to wrest Sibu from BN after 24 years.

20-year old issue

The inadequate flood mitigation efforts in Sibu was a key issue during the by-election and was also capitalised by the opposition during the recent April 16 state election.

In September last year Ho Leng had accused SUPP and its leaders of failing to resolve the 20-year flooding problem in Sibu.

He reportedly said: “The gravity and severity (of flooding) have increased over the years. But SUPP being part of the government has failed to reduce the incidence of floods.”

But Soon Koh countered by saying that BN had its own plans and that Phase 1 of the flood mitigation project, costing RM230 million, had already started with five big drainage upgrading projects being implemented.

Soong Koh reportedly said that work under Phase 1 would be in 2012.

“We have another RM30 million project coming up under the 10th Malaysia Plan for dredging the Rajang River to tackle the Pulau Kerto bottlenecks.

“Once Phase 1 is completed we’ll move on to Phase 2,” he said.

However, Ho Leng retorted that there was no need for such a large budget when dredging works in opposition held Penang and Selangor were done for less.

He in fact told the Sarawak Legislative Assembly that the government should stop loking for short term measures and get to the ‘root cause’ of the flooding in Sibu.

“I had said it many times that the flood problems in Sibu can be solved. One should look for long term solution, going to the root cause, and not short term solution.

“The main cause of the flood is the destruction of the ecosystem by uncontrolled and indiscriminate logging upstream of the Rejang River that has brought about siltation.

“Let me tell this August house that I had agreed to dredge not only the bottleneck at Pulau Kerto, but the entire stretch of the Rejang River at no cost to the government,” Ho Leng had reportedly said.

Lip service

Speaking to newsmen here, Soon Koh said Ho Leng had failed to bid for the project at Pulau Kerto in Sibu at the end of the tender deadline.

He reminded Ho Leng who is also Bukit Assek assemblymen to offer ‘practical approaches’ to resolving Sibu flood woes and not ‘just pay lip service.’

“When Barisan Nasional Chinese elected representatives propose policies for the people, we take a practical approach.

“But DAP will go full force to misguide and stir up negative emotions (against BN-SUPP) proposals to score some political points.

“But when their agenda is achieved, then the overall interest of the Chinese community would have been greatly affected.

“This is one example. DAP is not helping the people at all. They are just paying lip service,” he said adding that Ho Leng owed Sibu citizens an explanation and must disclose who “are these experts from China and US that DAP has engaged.”

He said it Ho Leng’s sincerity over wanting to resolve the flood woes was also questionable seeing how he did not grab the opportunity to bid for the tender.

“Yet he keeps requesting the government to issue licences (for dredging).

“Should he not be offering more information (about these dredging experts) such as company background, who forms it, financial status and workforce engaged?,” he asked.

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