Piasau State assemblyman, Datuk Sebastian Ting DUN speech
1.1. Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to join other Hounourable Members to debate on the Supply (2019) Bill, 2018.
I would like to congratulate the Chief Minister YAB Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Zohari for being conferred an “Honorary Doctorate in Economic Development” by UNIMAS on 29 October 2018.
2.0 STATE BUDGET 2019
2.1 I also would like to congratulate YAB Chief Minister for tabling a record high revenue of more than RM 10 billion, high impact, far-sighted and people-centric Supply Bill for 2019, thereby strengthening and accelerating our economic base for a strong and prosperous future for Sarawak, achieving high income State by 2030.
2.2 It is indeed an extraordinary budget of development with strong emphasis on rural development in order to close the development and economic gap between rural and urban areas. The rural areas are still lacking in basic necessities, such as water, electricity, schools, health care and roads.
With 76% of the total budget assigned for development expenditure while 67% of it goes to the development of rural areas, it shows the seriousness and commitment of our GPS Government to accelerate to close this gap.
It is important , I said it yesterday, two days ago and I would like to say it here again. I am a Sarawakian and proud to to be Sarawakian and I believe all the Honourable Members are also proud Sarawakians. Therefore , I will continue to speak for Sarawak and fight for the rights of Sarawakians.
2.4 The Federal Budget 2019 allocated RM 4.3 billion development expenditure to Sarawak, representing only 7.86% out of the total RM 54.7 billion. Sabah gets RM 5 billion and Malaya gets the remaining RM 45.4 billion. Only 7.86%, not 30 % as announced by PH Sarawak.
And we are asking, we are saying , we are equal partners. In that situation, we should be getting at least 30%. If not 30%, 20%.would do for now.
2.5 At the last DUN sitting in July 2018, I spoke and requested our government to consider an allocation of RM 2,000 to every Sarawakian family of a newborn child, as one off payment.
2.6 Today, I am very thankful and wish to record sincere appreciation to YAB Chief Minister for giving one-off incentive of RM 1,000 to all newborn babies beginning of next year 2019. This incentive can only be withdrawn upon attaining the age of 18, with the objective to help in furthering their education or use as starting up capital to pursue their career. This is for long term planning for the newborn babies, which is good.
2.7 But for the parents, especially, the poor and needy family, blessed with a new born baby, need immediate relief and help, and cannot wait for 18 years. 18 years is for the baby. That is alright.
2.8 For the family, instant financial help of RM 1,000 will bring great relief and tremendous happiness. They will be very delighted and thankful to our government for thinking of them and sharing their happy moments of a newborn baby of RM 1,000 gift.
2.9. With this RM 1,000, the total commitment and allocation of the government will only be RM 2,000 to the family of the newborn child. With this scheme, our Government takes care of both the baby in the long term and the family immediately. Perfect and so wonderful, isn’t it?
2.10 That was for the joy and happiness of a newborn baby. Now what about the sad and shocking news of the passing of a loved one of a member of the family? Should we also have them in mind and share their sadness by showing our care and concern?
2.11 In this hour of sadness, despair and in need of prayer, comforting words and financial assistance, our thoughts, sympathies and prayers should be with the members of the family at this time and indeed, a caring Government should or must immediately move in to give a helping hand. A personal touch is important.
2.12. Again , Last DUN sitting in July 2018, I suggested that a sum of RM 2,000 be considered and be given to the bereaved family on the death of a member of the family by our Government.
2.13 Sadly, this budget 2019 did not include this.
2.14. Therefore, I would like to appeal to our YAB Chief Minister to consider favorably and allocate a sum of RM 2,000 to the family for this. There are approximately 12,000 deaths each year in Sarawak and the total commitment will only be RM 24 million. This RM 24 million a year will go a long way for our Chief Minister and our government as a whole.
2.15. When the State Budget 2019 was published yesterday, the people in Miri commented in the press that,
i. There was no development fund being allocated for Miri
ii. There was also no provision to build affordable houses in Miri.
2.16 I had mentioned many times already in this august House that Miri people are asking for affordable and low cost houses. Miri people and myself are disappointed that affordable housing for Miri was not included in this budget. Affordable housing was in my manifesto in PRN 2016 election and the late Tok Nan campaigned for me and urged people to vote for me. He knew my manifesto. Housing is so important to everyone. And people voted partly because of my manifesto and I hold this manifesto very dear and would not want to give excuses for not fighting for those items listed in my manifesto, unlike others who would give excuses and continue to give excuses, at times with conflicting statements. Blaming others seems to be the norm for them.
2.17 I would like to thank the Assistant Minister YB Dr. Haji Annuar Rapaee yesterday morning in answering my question and supplementary questions on the affordable houses in Miri Permy 3 launched by the then YAB Chief Minister on April 2013. I take comfort to read the announcement by Honorable Member of Parliament for P219 Miri, YB Michael Teo as reported on the 13 August 2018 that Federal Government would build 8,000 units of affordable houses in Miri or he said he would try to arrange 8000 units affordable houses in Miri.
2.18 Nevertheless, I would appeal to our YAB Chief Minister to allocate substantial sum to build affordable houses in Miri under his walkabout next year.
2.19 We have to face hard political reality that Federal Government would be very slow and at times reluctant to help develop Sarawak and allocate adequate development funds, notwithstanding the assurances given by the Honourable Member of Bekalalan who is also Federal Minister of Works yesterday. Therefore, it is only prudent that Sarawak Government would have to look for new source of revenue stream.
2.20 I fully support the move and decision by YAB Chief Minister in exercising Sarawak’s rights to impose State Sales Tax of 5% on petroleum products as the new source of revenue for Sarawak as well as projecting the State towards the direction of being financially independent and part of Sarawak’s move to enforce our financial autonomy. It is estimated that it will generate extra RM 3.897 billion revenue next year.
2.21 Strict and vigorous collection of the new source of revenue from petroleum products is vital and make sure that there are no leakages. At the same time, it may be necessary to establish a mechanism to fix the prices of those petroleum products.
2.22 With this sales tax in place, it is anticipated that more revenues will be forthcoming in 2019 and beyond. This is certainly good news and I would like to suggest the followings.
a. Petros should be given adequate or sufficient fund to play more active role in the oil and gas industry including, prospecting, exploration and production.
b. In furtherance of (a) above, Petros should be encouraged to engage and enter joint venture with established oil companies because Sarawak should no longer be just a bystander.
c. Sarawak Government should also seriously consider investing and purchasing equity in some of the present gas fields owned by Petronas and other oil companies.
2.23 We are confident that Petros is in good hand and will do well like other oil companies. It will be extremely wonderful if Sarawak Government would declare payment of yearly dividend to each and every Sarawakian when Petros starts making profit. This will reaffirm to the people of Sarawak that indeed oil and gas resources belong to them.
2.24 As Sarawak develops and prospers, especially the city centres, the public transportation will become a necessity infrastructure to solve the issue of having too much cars on the road and thereby creating traffic jam. Sarawak Government should plan ahead to provide free and efficient public transportation for the people in Miri, Kuching, Sibu and Bintulu.
2.25 With additional revenue from the State Sales Tax and anticipated profits from Petros, there will be surplus and sufficient money to be put aside in setting up a Sarawak sovereign fund like how Norway did it with their sovereign fund, which has now surpassed the US 1 trillion dollars in assets in 2017, in the matter of 28 years. Just for information again, Norway received US 131 billion dollars as dividend for 2017, translate to RM 543 billion dividend. The fundamental condition of our sovereign fund is to be professionally managed to ensure that the future generation will benefit from the oil and gas revenues even after the depletion of our natural resources. This should be a good start.
3.0. COMPREHENSIVE AND PROGRESSIVE AGREEMENT FOR THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (CPTPP)
3.1 With the trade war heating up between China and United States, it is a golden opportunity for the Sarawak Government to encourage more foreign investments to Sarawak with special business and economic incentives.
3.2 On the other hand, we should also be aware of an international agreement called Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a trade agreement signed by 11 Pacific Rim nations such as Malaysia, Japan and Canada. Originally it was known as Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) until United States decided to pull out from the agreement.
3.3 According to Annex IV of the Agreement, it recognises that PDA74 vested Petronas with the entire ownership and the exclusive rights of petroleum and hydrocarbon resources, whether onshore or offshore of Malaysia. In addition, the agreement recognises Petronas as the sole entity that may award petroleum arrangements and other related contracts for exploration, development and production activities in Malaysia to other companies.
3.4. The Sarawak Government must immediately look into the matter and send representation to the Federal Government informing that we were never consulted and shall not agree to such agreement as it is eroding our oil and gas rights.
4.0 EDUCATION AUTONOMY
4.1 The recent Khazanah Research Institute report is saying that 3 years out of 12 years of schooling in Malaysia are totally wasted due to low quality of education.
4.2 In 2015, our students scored below average for all 3 categories: Science, Reading and Mathematics among the 72 countries that participated the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA), even scored lower than Vietnam
4.3 Before the GE14, for many years the PH claimed that there was a big problem with the education system. But now, after becoming the Federal Government, the new Federal Education Minister came out and said that they would continue with the current education blueprint. This is disappointing.
4.4 We all remember our late Tok Nan and his “54 Principles and Actions” in which the government recognised the use of English as a medium of instruction in the schools for Sarawak. He also said that English would be the official second language for Sarawak Government .
4.5 . In 2016, our Honorable Member of Kota Sentosa demanded our late Tok Nan to implement the usage of English as the medium of instruction in our schools.
4.6 However, the new Federal Education Minister in his reply in Parliament to a question raised said that it was unconstitutional for Sarawak to use English as medium of instruction in schools and the PH Sarawak supported the reply from the Federal Education Minister. I would like to remind Honourable Members of the august House that paragraph 17(a)(i) of the IGC Report gives us the right of using English as medium of instruction.
4.7. I just mention here very briefly on the promise made by the PH Government on the recognition of Unified Examination Certificate (UEC). Now we do not know when it will be recognised. Fortunately, Sarawak has no such problem as Sarawak Government has recognised few years ago as announced by the late Tok Nan. In addition, Tok Nan gave cash to the 14 Chinese Independent middle Schools, RM 3 million in 2014, RM 4 million in 2015, RM 5 million in 2016, RM 6 million in 2017 and followed with RM 7 million in 2018 by our YAB Chief Minister.
I would like to say thank you so much to our both late Tok Nan and our YAB Chief Minister.
4.8 My fellow Honourable Members, rather than waiting for PH Federal Government to solve the education problem, I think it is quicker and more effective for us to take back our education autonomy. Let us be in charge of providing the best education system for our people. No more flip flop education policies, no more inaccurate history on formation of Malaysia, total recognition of UEC and setup more English medium schools.
5.0. REFERENDUM ORDINANCE
5.1 I would like to touch on the word Referendum. To my mind we need to distinguish between Federal Referendum Act and Referendum Ordinance. Referendum Act is a Federal matter and will be for Parliament to consider and to enact if they so wish. But for the enactment of Referendum Ordinance, it is for Sarawak State Legislative to consider and provide a Bill for debate.
5.2 It is a direct form of democracy for our people to decide on important matters where it is more challenging and thus not possible for 82 Honourable Members in this august House to decide on behalf of all Sarawakians.
5.3. At this juncture, I would like to suggest that proper and adequate studies be carried out with the view of introducing Referendum Ordinance in this august House next year.
6.0. CONVERTING LEASEHOLD LAND TO FREEHOLD LAND
6.1 Owning a house is a dream of everybody and after having a house, heavy commitments come, like monthly payment of mortgage instalment, payments of electricity bills, assessment rates and at times maintenance works. Presently most of the residential land in town and sub-urban are leasehold. I would like to urge our government to look into creating policies and frameworks to allow conversion of leasehold residential land to freehold land, in urban as well as sub-urban areas including the private ownership of agricultural land. This will provide our people with the most complete form of ownership of their land, in perpetuity.
6.2 With the freehold land, our people no longer need to worry on payment of premium to renew the tenure of lease. I am confident that this will benefit all Sarawakians, eliminating their concern of renewing their land lease and also providing a peace of mind that when their children inherit the land, they also do not need to renew the land lease. Ultimately, this will reduce the financial burden on the people.
7.0 BAN PUBLIC SMOKING
7.1 It is common knowledge that there are many non-smokers, pregnant mother, young infant and young children becoming victims of second-hand smoke. I am extremely concerned of the adverse health effect of second-hand smoke on their health.
7.2 Studies concluded that non smoker inhaling second-hand smoke is 30 percent more likely of suffering lung cancer, stroke and many other types of cancer compare to the smoker. Infants and children will experience more frequent and severe asthma attacks and respiratory infections
7.3 I appreciate that it is entirely up to a person whether he or she would like to smoke but we should be mindful of others who are non-smoker, that they too have the right to clean air. Therefore, it is imperative for the government to formulate guidelines to regulate smokers to smoke in a controlled environment so his action has absolutely no adverse health impact on others.
7. 4 Relevant local authorities need to start imposing strict bans and enforcing fine on people caught smoking at public areas including workplace, five-foot way, open air eatery, coffee shops and street hawkers.
7.5 I am pleased to note that Dewan Bandaraya Kuching Utara (DBKU) is in the process of gazetting a law to prohibit people from lighting up cigarettes in the identified smoke-free public areas. It is my hope to see that other local authorities will also follow DBKU initiative and one day we can have smoke-free public areas for the whole Sarawak.
7.6 Hopefully, this will also encourage smokers to kick back their habit; ensuring a healthier lifestyle for our people and cleaner environment with less litter of cigarette butts. Yesterday, I read in the newspaper even our State Secretary is asking for Government Servant to give smoking. That I think is a good start.
One minute . I have to look for the best one to conclude it.
8.1 For the information of the Honourable Members of this august House, Barisan Nasional was formed on the 1st day of January 1973 and after 9th May 2018, majority of the Parties left. BN, for all intent and purposes, is 45 years only.
Out of these 45 years, our Prime Minister YAB Tun Dr.Mahathir was in the cabinet for 30 years, namely,
i. 1974 to 1976. Minister of Education. 3 years
ii. 1976 to 1981 Deputy Prime Minister. 5 years
iii. 1981 to 2003 Prime Minister. 22 years
Total 30 years out of 45 years of Barisan Nasional.
8.2 Now, Let me end my speech with this thought,
“People outside are watching us, both GPS and PH Honourable Members of this august House, what we said, what we promised, what we did, what we did not do, ultimately they will judge us”.
8.3 With this, I wish to express my full support for the Supply (2019) Bill, 2018.
8.4 I wish to take this opportunity to wish all our Honourable members, political secretaries, heads of departments and staffs who are Christians and all Christians in Sarawak a “Merry Christmas” and a Happy and Blessed New Year 2019 to all Sarawakians.
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