Friday, 19 October 2012

Sabah, Sarawak excluded from oil panel?

An opposition MP raises this question in Parliament, reminding the government Sabah was still one of the poorest states despite being an oil producer.

KOTA KINABALU: Tawau MP Chua Soon Bui has questioned the exclusion of Sabah and Sarawak in the special committee set up to review the oil royalty for oil and gas producing states.

Chia posed the question during her Budget 2013 debate speech in Parliament recently when enquiring about the progress of the committee that had been quiet ever since Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced its setting up on Aug 22.

She said a review of the 5% oil royalty rate paid to Sabah was 36 years old and it was time it was reviewed since much in the country and the world had changed and the right to extract all oil and gas resources found within Sabah in perpetuity was unreasonable.

Sabah, she said, was acknowledged as being the poorest state in the country despite being endowed with rich oil and gas resources and the continued extraction of its wealth was unacceptable.

Chua reminded that Sabah contributed about 25% of petroleum revenue, 12% of gas revenue to the nation which amounted to a large proportion of the RM65.45 billion of oil, gas and tax revenue paid to the federal government.

Increasing crime rate

The opposition MP also urged the Home Ministry to address increasing crime in housings areas in Sabah especially in Tawau which had frightened investors and locals who never had to grapple with the problem before.

She said her constituents in Tawau no longer felt safe after reports of robberies and house break-ins not only took place at night but in broad daylight too.

The change from a carefree social atmosphere in the the east coast district to that of one under siege, she said, was unhealthy and the blame was being placed on the large number of mostly poor illegal immigrants in the state.

Chua, who is also a Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) vice-president, inquired how much of the RM591 million allocated by the government in its budget to create safe and harmonious neighbourhoods was for Sabah and Tawau.

“How many of the motorcycle patrolling units out of the total 1,000 units (at RM20,000 per unit) would be allocated to Sabah to monitor housing areas?

“How many of the police volunteer reserve (PVR) out of the total 10,000 officers would be trained in Sabah to assist the police in Sabah in combating crime? How many CCTVs would be installed in
Sabah and Tawau to prevent street crimes in urban areas?” she asked.

Lack of jobs

Touching on the lack of jobs in the state, Chua urged the federal government to provide skills training and re-training programmes given the fact that the unemployment rate in Sabah was 5.6%, the highest in the country.

She said employment and training opportunities especially in the oil and gas industry should be given to young people in Sabah as the state was a major contributor.

Chia also urged the Education Ministry to review the RM100 million budget allocation to take into account Chinese primary schools as the number of such schools was more than double of the national type schools.
“Most of the Chinese primary schools are currently overcrowded, some with more than 50 students per classroom,” she said.

Chua also asked the Education Ministry to clarify reports that only 10 computer laboratories built for 300 Sekolah Kebangsaan in Sabah are fully functional as students were being deprived of learning information and communications technology due to a government foul-up.

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