Friday, May 22, 2009

Debate on the Motion of Appreciation on The Govenor's Address

Speech by Chiew Chiu Sing ADUN N59 Kidurong on the debate of Motion of Appreciation on Tuan Yang Terutama Yang Di-Pertua Negeri’s Address on 15th of May, 2009 in the Sarawak State Legislative Council, Kuching, Sarawak.

Mr. Speaker,

I rise to take part on the debate of Motion of Appreciation on Tuan Yang Terutama Yang Di-Pertua Negeri’s Address which was so graciously delivered by His Excellency the Tuan Yang Terutama Yang Di-Pertua Negeri in this august House on Monday, the 11th of May , 2009.

Mr. Speaker,

I would like to bring up several issues which I hope the Ministries concerned will do them right to help the people live better.

Firstly, the Bintulu/Sibu road. Mr. Speaker, many parts of this stretch of the road which is about 200 km in length are in bad conditions these days, and it is getting more and more difficult, unpleasant and costly for salon and family cars to drive on.

Whereas the trailers, lorries, tankers, buses, logging trucks etc can still bump their way along the road, even luxury four wheel drives are taking the brunt.

If one started out driving from Bintulu, after the Bintulu Airport one is greeted immediately with repaired patches, so many of them, like bandages to a sore leg. Every patch you drive over is like driving over a bump and you can imagine how uncomfortable that is, especially when you are driving a kancil or a viva.

In fact there are so many patching on the way from Bintulu to Tatau, that at some stretches, there is a patch area after every 100 feet. And in each patch area there are 5 to 6 smaller patches.

Mr. Speaker, how to drive on a road like that. You should try.

What is worse is that the repaired patches are about an inch higher than the existing road surface. I have yet to understand why they are not to the same level, so that driving could be easier. Or, is this part of the much boasted about, new road building technologies that is being practiced by the contractors these days.

Mr. Speaker, today between Bintulu and Tatau, there are 4 to 5 places where part of the road had slid. I mean big sliding. Nothing permanent had been done for months now, except being identified and marked off or a side access provided. I hope we are not waiting for the day when the whole road slid and broke off and become inaccessible again, like what happened just before the Chinese New Year, at 48 km Bintulu/Tatau road. Families with children in their cars waited a few kilometers in line, for hours and hours under the hot sun, waiting for a temporary pass to be built.

Mr. Speaker, actually for a country like ours, rich in natural resources, gas and oil as well as rich in human resources with brilliant engineers, things like this should never happened, we only have so few roads. I could still remember in the sixties and seventies we had always looked up to the engineers in JKR to help us with our roads, bridges and other basic amenity services. They are so good and well respected as they were always on the watch out for our problems, which were frequently solved before they ever happened. I cannot understand how then, today the one and only Pan Borneo Highway the conditions of which at so many places are so poor and seems like nobody is taking care of her seriously anymore

Now back to the drive on the road from Bintulu to Sibu. The road continue to be in terrible condition after a sudden drop in level at the Tatau Bridge as the road joined the bridge. You bump again, a condition which has almost become norm where ever a road surface meet the bridge these days in our state.

For many many kilometers after the Sg. Arip bridge and a little way before the approach to the Balaingian Bridge and after the Bridge, the patching are so bad that, for a smaller car, you can only drive at dead slow speed and mind you on a tar sealed surface, because there are just so many repair patches which are so bumpy.

And as one approaches Selanggau it seems like works for the roundabout there is taking so long to be completed. Actually when will it be done?

The poor patching repairs continue as one approaches the Setapan township and continue on out for several kilometers, and after that cracks appear here and there all the way to the Sibu Airport road about .

And from there, if you continue on to Julau, that is another big failure in the construction works for our Pan Borneo Highway, up to this day the road is still not yet finished though fatal accidents had happened at the junction at the Sibu Airport.

Mr. Speaker, I mentioned about the condition of the road for one driving from Bintulu to Sibu. Actually, the situation is pretty much the same for one driving on the old Bintulu/Miri road from Bintulu all the way up to the Bakun Road Junction. And as for the Bakun road, it is bad, bad, bad. …I will talked about the Bakun road and other issues later if time permits. Many parts of the new coastal highway from Kuala Nyalau to Miri is already in bad shape too.

Mr. Speaker, 45 years after Sarawak joined to form Malaysia and after the bath in the Sarawak First wave of development, our one and only road that connects from Lundu to Miri remains a backward two lane highway, sorrowfully maintained in many parts.

We have seen the logging trucks hauling big loads day and night, lorries, trailers and today huge palm oil tankers, hauling loads from one place to another on the Pan Borneo Highway.

It is regrettable that a railroad had not been built to haul our natural resources, be it timber or palm oil etc. Then we could have avoided the heavy load to be hauled on our two lane Pan Borneo highway. We could have left it to the better use of lighter vehicles.

So many countries build railroads to haul their heavy loads, but we are more luxurious here in Sarawak, we build tar sealed road for our huge logging trucks and palm oil tankers to use, driving along side our kancil.

While the logging trucks, tankers and others, save on the maintenances cost driving on the tar sealed road, our poor kancil picks up the tab. Tax payers pay for the maintenance costs of the road, and mind you from 2004 to 2006 the government had paid out a total of RM41 million for road resurfacing and rehabilitation and RM 28 million for patching of our federal roads to their own contractors who were appointed without open tender.

We could have borrowed money to finance the building of the railroad and pay off with our revenue from our natural resources. That way we would have a more comprehensive road network system for the enjoyment and use of all our people.

Mr. Speaker,

My second issue is the traffic condition in front of the SMK Bintulu, Mile 2 Bintulu/Miri road which got to be the most congested area for in a short span of about half 500 meters. There is a SK Kampong Baru primary school, the SMK Bintulu with several thousands of students, the SK Assykirim, The Government quarters, and entrance to kampong Assykirim. So, we can imagine how traffic is like on that stretch of road during working and school hours.

It is urged that the area be redesigned to alleviate the traffic jam, and especially the narrow road of the government quarters leading to SK Assykirim. The road is so narrow, hardly enough for two way traffic and need to be widen with a provision for pedestrians, as so many student are walking on the road everyday while the cars drive on.

Then, coming down from SMK Bintulu the right turn to Kampong Assykirim, the shoulder for turning is becoming too short to accommodate the cars turning right, and as a result they can only queue up on the main road lane causing further congestion.

These are simple problems and had been there for years causing much headaches and tension to the people in Bintulu. I believe that they can be solved easily if we really put out hearts to it, to help the folks there to have a peace of mind using the road.

Thirdly, Mr. Speaker, the weather is so hot these days, yet it had come to my understanding that some schools do not have fans or have fans but are not functioning or turned on. It is hard to imagine that our children can study well in such hot conditions, so hot. I have heard that some schools try to save electricity for not turning on, while others are afraid that the fan may not be secured enough.

Actually how many schools, both primary and secondary schools in the Bintulu Division have fans in each and every classrooms. How many of them are functioning and turned on and how many are not and why. Is there a safety secure for the fans so that if it falls it could still be caught hanging and not fall down as had happened before.

Parents had told me also about the conditions of chairs and tables in the secondary schools. I do not know whether it is the maintenance department which is unaware of it, or is it because they only got a couple of carpenters to cope with the huge amount of works. But when you have several thousands of students, while the wooden chairs and tables had depreciated over time, it is no wonder that the students lose their moods sitting on worn out chairs or shaking tables.

Another problem for the school is the toilets, either there is not enough of them or they are locked at certain times or dirty or students smoking in there and what not. By the way what is the standard ratio of students to toilet in our primary and secondary schools. I hope that the education department can look into this so that students can have enough and clean toilets to use when they need to. It look like a small matter but is actually very important as it is almost torturing having to hold back one’s pee .

We are now in the twenty first century and Sarawak had gone through its first wave of development and with the emphasis on human development, proper basic facilities got to be in place, so that the school would not be bog down by fan, chairs and tables and become a school for maintenance works instead of a school for learning, not to mention the so many other problems like smoking, drugs, fighting, not attending schools etc etc. which are happening so frequently these days.

Mr. Speaker,

So many rural folks had come to Bintulu in search for works and a livelihood, and they have provided the work force that was much needed for the development Bintulu in the past 30 years. They came and do not have a place to stay, as renting would be too expansive and then there is the water, electricity bill and other expenses, while they may not have a fixed job even, so they could only stay in shacks, simply made from some timber and a few pieces of zinc roofing sheets. They hardly have any pipe water or electricity supply. The road to their shelters are very rugged.

They lived in Kampong Sebatang, Openg, Muzako, Pasir Putih along the Kidurong road, along the Sibiew River sides and other places in Bintulu. There are a few thousands units of families living in these shacks. Many youngsters in these kampongs were actually born in these shelters and grew up in these extreme living conditions. There went to the nearby schools and today they have finished form 5 and working in Bintulu, adding to the work force there, if they can find a job.

These are all our brothers and sisters, fellows Sarawakian and Malaysians and they deserve better conditions to live in and grow up. Just think how would it be like, if you and I were to stay in that condition and grow up in there. But just because they are from the rural and had no means for better lodging so do they deserve to stay like that ? No, no one deserve to stay like that with their children growing up in such harsh conditions, where there is hardly any pipe water or electricity supply, all cramp in a ten by ten cubicle for a family of 4 or five, and a constant threat of fire break out.

As caring people of a caring society and led by a caring government we need to help these rural folks who had come from the rural and live a different life experiences, just as we would be different and need their help if we move to the rural to live.

Mr. Speakers, thirty years ago, had we set a side a piece of land near the Kidurong area and build say a thousand units of concrete low cost houses with proper infrastructure and basic amenities and give them to those qualified folks who had no money and no place to live, we could have developed a healthy living kampong today, quite different from what we have today. But instead we did not want to do anything, we allow them to live poorly.

But never mind, we still can do it today, we can still allocate land at different shack kampong areas and build two thousand units concrete low cost houses with proper infrastructure, water and electricity for these people. It really does not cost too much. I think if we allocate just two percent, just two percent of our next year budget we would get the job going and we can be providing better housing and homes for our rural brothers and sisters staying at the above mentioned kampongs in a couple of years time. At least they could then own a home which I believe would also give them a head start for a living in town.

Mr. Speaker, the longhouses, about 12 of them, around the Similajau area, Bintulu/Miri road had been there for more than 20 years now. Some pioneer Tuai Rumah had passed away and being replace by the second generation of Tuai Rumah duly elected by the people.

These Tuai Rumah had always, apart from performing the functions of Tuai Rumah in accordance with the adat of the Iban people, they also acted as witnesses to folks of their longhouses for various things like marriage or divorces, identity of the school children of their longhouses, boundary disputes and land issues of the folks of their longhouse, etc etc. But lately they have been told that they cannot perform these functions anymore because they have not been appointed by the Government.

In the Declaration of the Rights of the International Indigeneous people and the Indigenous People in Malaysia, All Indegenous people have basic human rights and they are equal to other human being and individuals and must not be discriminated. Article 4 of the Declaration says that they have the right to self government.

Mr. Speaker, since these Tuai Rumah live as Tuai Rumah, in their longhouses and perform the functions of the Tuai Rumuh in accordance to the adat and have been duly elected by their longhouses folks to be Tuai Rumah, therefore they must be deemed to be the Tuai Rumah. It is therefore only right that we should conferred them as Taui Rumah so that they can help on with the folks of their longhouses.

Mr. Speaker,

The dyke built about ten years ago to protect the Tg. Batu Beach had served its usage and can longer hold up the waves during the year end months. January this year the waves went right over the dyke and caused much losses and damages to the residential housing along the seaside at Tg. Batu.

For several nights logs and debris from the sea splashed onto the road, many houses were flooded as a result, erosion is seen slowly occurring again and if not guarded, the destruction to the Tg. Batu beach will come in no time again.

Something got to be done quickly to the dyke to make it higher and bigger so that it could hold up the waves during the year end months like the Petronas Housing beach dyke. The Tg. Batu beach dyke was built about the same time as the Petronas Housing Beach dyke. Today the later dyke stood firmly above the sea level while that of the Tg. Batu beech is almost submerged. Why was there such a difference in the building of the two dykes. Is it because the property of the folks at the Tg.Batu beach worth less than that at the Petronas Beech.

I therefore urge that this works be taken up urgently for the protection of the lives and property of the people at Tg. Batu.

Further down the beach at the month of the Kemena River, sedimentation had been very serious and is clogging up the river month which is becoming dangerous to boat going in and out of the river. The river mouth need to be dredged, and properly maintained at all time making it safe for navigation. And what about the signs and lights acting as guide for the safe path of boat traveling in the area. They are no where to be seen.

A boat had actually got stuck at the beach at the beginning of the year, because of all these and it is urged that we keep our river mouth dredged and safe for our navigators. We want to protect their lives and properties as much as we possible can.

Mr. Speaker,

On 17th of April, 2009, I was on board a plane flying from Kuala Lumpur to Bintulu . The flight was half full.

As the plane approach the Bintulu Airport , I felt a steep descend, quite different from the ones that I usually feel on descending to any airport. And when she landed, I could see and hear that she was going very fast.

I thought to myself, at that speed, how is she going to make the turn to parking. Sure enough, just moments later I felt the brake applied and she tried to make the left turn into the parking area, she could not do it. She then went on a little, and right after that she braked again and attempted another turn, she still could not do it.

So the plane continue on going straight, but then the plane started shaking and shaking very badly, like when our car tyre punctured while running fast. I thought to myself, something must have gone wrong with the front wheel landing system. After a very short distance she managed to stop. We were lucky to have landed safely, anything could have happened in a situation like that and this must be avoided.

I thought we would then be let out immediately but we had to wait in the plane in the middle of the runway until the ladder is rolled up to the plane. The plane must be about 500 meters from the terminal which would take about 15-20 minutes if one were to walk. And as we got off the plane we were not allowed to walk to the terminal, instead, we were asked to wait beside the plane under the hot sun, toddler, and senior folks included, waiting for a bus from Bintulu Town to ferry us to the terminal. The passengers thought that it would be safer to be in the terminal than waiting beside the plane. So we all walked up to the terminal. We thought some airport vehicles would surely help to give the mother with children and the elderly a ride. But we all walked.

It was reported in the Newspaper that a pin in the front wheel had came off and that is why it could not turn. What actually happened and how serious was the whole thing, why did it happen and who was responsible and was the person responsible held accountable and could the whole thing be actually avoided. What about those people on the ground whose flights were cancelled as a result of the plane sitting in the run way making it not possible for other plane to land, are they compensated.

But what did the other aviation people say, was the matter reported to the national and international aviation investigation folks and whether a report of which could be made public so that things like that and others do not happen and that every time when we get on a plane we know we are in the best caring hands.

Several incidences involving airplanes had occurred recently, the plane that landed on the Hudson river, the Turkish air which fell flat on to the ground at Netherlands and a couple of crashed in South America are all examples. Our planes must be the safest to fly in at all time.

Lastly, Folks in Bintulu are impressed with BDA’s contractor going into the drain and scoped up the filth in the drain at different housing estate and the following folks had asked if BDA could clean/ clear their drains at their housing estates like between Jalan Mempelam and Jalan Pesiaran Mempelam, Tg. Batu and the Berjaya Commercial Centre, Jalan Sultan Iskandar and repair the sewage pumping station at RPR Kidurong Phase II opposite House No. 2713. The discharge into the drain is very smelly indeed.

Thank you Mr. Speaker.

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