Monday, May 27, 2013

Debate on the Motion of Appreciation on the Address of His Excellency the Governor of Sarawak 23.5.2013

Speech by Chiew Chiu Sing ADUN N59 Kidurong on the debate on the Motion of Appreciation on the
Address of His Excellency the Govenor of Sarawak on 23rd of May, 2013 in the Sarawak State Legislative Council, Kuching, Sarawak.

Mr. Speaker,

I rise to join in the debate on the Motion of Appreciation on the address of His Excellency the Govenor of Sarawak which was so graciously delivered  in this August House on the 20th of May, 2013.

First of all I wish to thank all of our peoples who had participated in the historic general election just past, what ever it was,  and however it had turned out, we had all worked hard to  win, because each of us whether it is from PR or BN, believe that we  can do a better job in building a better Malaysia.

I wish to thank especially all those who had supported the DAP and Pakatan Rakyat. Before the election,  we had two MPs from Sarawak, now we have six, 5 DAPs and 1 PKRs.

Mr. Speaker,

In building the better Malaysia,  we have to start from our electoral process where we must  account for all of the irregularities that  happened during the last election,  and we call upon all peoples to come forward to share with us all the irregularities and help us to get to the truth. 

Mr. Speaker,

Our elections  show that we are moving further and further away from our moral compass. We must steer ourselves to set the course towards the ideals that founded our nation.

The election results had shown that the majority of Malaysians want better governance and a system that is not corrupt, feeding off greed and abuses of power.

Some are quick to blame it baselessly on race because that is the easiest, but in fact people of all races had voted for change. Pakatan majority of support from the electorate reaffirms our hope in building a better Malaysia.

And while our nation is seeking to become a high- income economy by the year 2020. The stated target for achieving this status is a GNI (Gross National Inome) per capita of USD 15,000.

But there is no point of attaining the high-income status if we we forget our moral obligations like  as stated in the UN eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and they are:-

-to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger,

-achieving universal primary education,

-promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality rates,

-improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases and

-ensuring environment and developing global partnership for development. 

These eight MDGs are essentially the duty of every responsible government and is focused on equality - equality of access, equality of opportunity, equality of availability of resources, equality of affordable services and perhaps equality of being respected with human dignity.

But to the contrary, our inequality gap is widening. Income inequality is worsening in Malaysia.

According to a 2010 World Bank report, the bottom 40  per cent of our workforce earns only 14.3 per cent of the total income, while the top fifth, mostly of corporate elites,  takes nearly half the pie.

Little money is only distributed to the people who actually move the economy- the average worker.  Our rich-poor gap has in fact risen to be the  highest in Asia after Papua New Guinea.

One third of our of our Malaysian workers currently earn less than RM700 a month.

Employee wages make up only 28 % of our national income, while the figure is 40% in Singapore and 51 per cent in Canada. This is due in part to policies that encourage low-skill foreign labour that suppress the wage market and a lack of attention to upskilling and enhancing domestic workers.

This is a challenge that our country must face carefully. It is increasingly believed that inequality is an impediment to economic growth.

In fact, some have even suggested that inequality may have a stronger effect on growth compared to other factors such as foreign investment, market accessibility, and the strength of political institutions. 

This is  because inequality is a fundamental fracture in a society. When the gap is wide enough, it will lead to reduced educational and economic opportunities for a large segment of the population.

While inequality is seen to be an obstacle to sustained economic growth, studies have shown that the presence of equality can actually produce more efficient outcomes.

For example, equality of opportunity in health and education will directly protect and enhance the pool of available human capital, strengthening its operational capacity and thus enabling value -added economic growth.

Mr.  speaker,

Another problem with widening levels of inequality is the fact that it is often a symptom of a larger systemic problem called state monopoly capitalism. Some terms it 'corporatocracy"

Whatever you call it, it refers to the control of economic and political systems by big businesses or corporate interest, in most cases in collusion with thte state. Such a scenario is a breeding ground for inequality.

This can be seen in Wall Street where affluent bankers who failed,  get bailed out with taxpayer money because they are 'too big to fail' whilst ordinary folks lose their house and jobs.

In Malaysia huge billion ringgit loans to cronies get written off from the Federal Government whilst the ordinary people have to pay to the last cent or go bankrupt. 

The prevailing rent-seeking structure has produced a monopolistic system that benefits a select group of cronies benefiting from directly negotiated contracts and sweetheart deals. it is clear who benefits and who loses out.

The system is structured to favour a select group of crony capitalists, while the people at large have to bear the burden of inefficiency. Hence, contributing to a further widening income gap in Malaysia.

Mr. Speaker, the fundmentals of a successful economy are the same all over there world. and the 5 fundamental characteristics of an economy that works are :

Firstly, it must be socially inclusive. As Gandhi once said, a nations's greatness is measured by how it treats its poor, imprisoned and the weak. Hence, it is incumbent upon any government to ensure the selling of the urban poor and other socially, marginalised groups.

secondly, all developments must be sustainable engaging both the public and private sector for full commitment.

Thirdly, there must be economic solidarity. Inequality of opportunity must be addressed, not only for moral reasons but also because greater equality will result in better economic outcomes.

If we are able to address issues such as the cost of education, healthcare and access to infrastructure, we will be able to raise disposable income and lower the opportunity bar, which will then empower the people and produce a better, smarter and more entrepreneurial workforce.

Fourthly, monopolies must be broken allowing markets to be operate efficiently.

And lastly there must be clean governance- A government free of corruption. A step towards closing the opportunity for corruption  would be introducing the open competitive tenders and disclosure of government contracts for public scrutiny, as being practiced by the Penang PR government.

In ensuring clean governance they have also their State Executive council including the Chief Minister to make full public declaration of their assets.

Mr. Speaker,

The potentials for Sarawak and in fact the whole country is immense when we embark on the right policies and that is why we PR sees the need for a fundamental change to build a better Sarawak and Malaysia.


So many of the rural folks who had come to town to find a living through earning wages in town,  are finding out that it is not enough to just rely on wages to move up to the economic ladder and had turned to farming to earn extra income.

This is only natural and great entrepreneurship for these our rural brothers and sisters  as so many of them  who had come to town were farmers before. And now that they have a little savings from wages, they want to invest in planting, like for example palm oil.

It is their wish and also those in the urban who want to do farming to be allocated farm land, say of 5 acres so that they can also be agriculturally productive.

I see this as a positive, the  peoples' initiative to become productive and urge that the government work out a plan to meet their needs for all those in Sarawak and especially for those at the Kidurong area in Bintulu. This can be in terms of land  rental for a short term or other measures of land lease.

Mr. Speaker,

Flat dwellers of the three end blocks of the Sg. Plan Flats, Kidurong, namely Block M, P and another, had been suffering and suffocating from the rolling and airborne dirt  as a result of earth moving and transporting works on the road  right by the flat, about the distance from Mr. Speaker place to my seat here.

The situation is bad each day, when the ten wheelers,  carrying the earth,  rolled by the flats,  kicking up so much dirt in the air.

There was not even a watering truck seen, to keep the dirt down at all times.  The residents had made complains and complains, but the situation persisted.

I cannot see how a license can be issued,  in a situation like this,  where the earth transporting activity is done so close to the flats which lived so many people.

And even if a license were to be  issued,  the conditions must be extra tight,  to ensure a complete peaceful living environment and non disturbance of the people living there!

Right now the flat folks  cannot even dry their clothes, not to mention the dirt which is everywhere, in the living room, dinning room, bed room- on the bed and  kitchen table and where not.

Unfortunately, so many who are  responsible, had chosen to close an eye on the whole matter and enforcement are no where to be seen either. They must be there all the time   to ensure that the works are carried out in strict accordance to special conditions for the peaceful living of the people there.

It is therefore urged that either an alternative route be sought,  or the dirt and dust on the site and on the road must  be completely controlled at all times, before the earth works can carry on further. Folks staying at these flats  do not deserve the pollution like this at all. Things like this just done happen in other countries, what is happening to ours ?

Mr. Speaker,

Last December, right after our DUN sitting, I went home to  Bintulu and almost everyday I read of report in the news of lorry missing, big lorries - ten wheelers ! I mean how could such a big, noisy and clumsy  machine be stolen that easily !

One would imagine that  if just one lorry were stolen,  it would have been too many already. But it kept on being stolen until about 15 of them were gone !!

Police reports were made and even clips of the act of  stealing the lorries in process were taken by the CCTV in the owners' yard. The clips  were given to the police, but the stealing went on.
One could not help but wonder how could this happened so daringly  and how come  the situation was not overcome and the thieves arrested in the first instant when just one lorry was stolen.

Last week,  I read of similar thefts in Bintulu again, this time it's the 4 wheel drives vehicles being stolen. One was stolen when the owner went down to buy newspaper at Medan Jaya, Bintulu  and the other was, when another owner went to the night market to buy some thing and by the time he got back in about half hour, the 4 wheel drive was gone.

Mr. Speaker,

We are very concerned about this, because if the stealing is  not stopped right the way,  it will  continue on and  become ever more rampant. The thieves will become even  more daring.

Mr. Speaker,

Such act of crime in our society is most damaging, as it threatens us and weaken our confidence  in our government whether the govenment of the day  really cares about our safety or not and I wish to urge that the police to take all measures to step up its forces and fight the crimes all the way. 

Having said the above, I must however thank the BTU KPD Mr. Madan and Inspector John who were always helpful when being asked for assistance.

I welcome the  new IGP,  Tan Sri Kahlid's remarks,  when he took office last week,  that fighting crime is his first priority, we wish for him and all his man's  success to restore the peace and order for all of us.

Mr. Speaker,

According to the Iban in the Sepadok/Silas, Bintulu,  area, they had been burying their deads at their present burial grounds near the Sepaok river even before the 1930s until today.

But the Bintulu Development Authority had also gazetted the area to be a part of the Phase I (Tambahan) of the Kemena Industrial Estate.
At the beginning of this year, I have receieved a letter dated 15th of January, 2013, written to the Land and Survey Dept in Bintulu, and letters before this, to the government,  where the longhouse folks of the Sepadok/Silas area had objected to this and asked that the gazette for the Kemena Estate of that specific area be cancelled and a new gazette be issued to the longhouse folks for them to continue on  to  used the said land as inidcated in the letter  dated 21st of May 2012 addressed to the District Office for their burial grounds.

Mr. Speaker,

The longhouses folks are very much been agrived by such matter,  as this is a matter of the deads whom they have buried even before the 1930s and a  place for themselves when they should go one day. We all appreciate the  development but at the same time we take care of the needs of our people as well, and I wish that this matter can be solved amicably to give back the land and  peace of mind to the longhouse folks there.

Mr. Speaker,

On the 28th of January, at the beginning of this year. about 2000 local workers banded together and did a demonstration at the SCORE site in Samalaju.They domonstated because they wanted the companies there, to reduce the number of foriegn workers, estimated to be numbering around 8000 on sites within the Samalaju area.

According to the local workers, the companies had brought in the foreign workers and use them to replace terminated and retrench local workers.

The local workers had wanted the companies AND appeal to the authorities to uphold the Government policy of giving job priorities to local workers. They said that foreign workers should only be taken in at certain level when there is not enough local worker talents and skills available.

They domonstrated also because they felt that they have been unfairly treated where most of their wages were also reduced from an average of twelve ringgit to about six ringgit per hour. The foreign labourers were paid an average of twenty ringgit per hour and  also provided with better lodging facilities and transport to work. The local workers were in general afraid , and they  felt that the practice of the companies had not been fair and it discriminated against the local workers.

Mr. Speaker,

Most of the local workers had come from rural areas,  after completing their secondary schools. Some came back from working in Semanajung Malaysia and are willing to work in harsher condition in order to be close to their aging parents while some have school going children and wanted to be close to their families.

It seems that their hopes were dashed when the companies began to recruit more foreign workers and are taking over their jobs. The companies even have skill trainning programmes for foreign workers lasting for a duratioon of two to three months while local workers never received any.

I therefore urge that the government should review its policies and procedures to allow local workers to continue to be employed in the SCORE projects. Our government should never neglect the well being of our local labourers, both semi skill and skill workers, at the expense of keeping the country direct investiment  environmnet attractive. We should pursue a sustainable development approach in our efforts to progress the country.

Mr. Speaker,

I have here a Mr. Wong Kai Ting of 262 and 263 Ground Floor, Parkcity Commerce Square Ph 4, Bintulu with SESCO Account No. 100002154050 and Account No.100002154062 respectively.

SESCO had changed his meters about a year ago and right after that slapped  him with a bill of RM57,825.14 and RM 36,688.10 respectively and demanded that they pay up or the supply will be disconnected.

Mr. Wong was shocked and felt this to be most unfair as he said he had done no wrong and had never tampered with the meter. I felt that SESCO is being too heavy handed, whatever she says, is it. Pay up or I cut your electricity, because last time your usage was less and now more after the meter change. So Pay.

Mr. Speaker, There could be many reasons why the usage was more.

SESCO' s harsh standing  attitude in this case is not acceptable and I urged that SESCO come up with a reasonable policy to solve such cases. I agree with Member for Kota Santosa that any arreas should not be traced back for more than 3 months.   

Mr. Speaker,
Many of the cancer patients from the local area and outstations who are getting the chemo therapy treatment at the Sarawak General Hospital are very unhappy with the way how some the things are run there.

Some of those who had come from outstations and who were running low on white blood cells and have to do blood test fast, yet are not allowed to get the blood test done first. They have to wait till noon to get the blood test done and by the time that is done they cannot do the chemo therapy anymore, as the time would not enough.

This is worse for those who had come from outstation and who had bought the return ticket, they have no choice then but to throw away the ticket and spend more money on new ticket and lodging some more.

All these are adding on to the burden and pain of the patient, Mr. Speaker.

I understand that the work load at the chemo centre is heavy yet the facilities and hands are not enough,  but the problem has been like that for quite some time already and I urge that the Hospital to look into this matter quickly so as to provide the good and efficient service to our patient there thus enhancing the healing process of these cancer patients.

And with that, Mr.  Speaker, Selamat Hari Gawai to all my Dayak friends and Thank you.

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