Saturday October 6, 2012
More needs to be done to bridge rural-urban gap, says minister
By YU JI
KUCHING: The state government is “fully aware” that more needs to be done to ensure rural-urban development parity.
Speaking at the launch of a rural electrification project here yesterday, Public Utilities Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said a lot of money was needed because the state was large and the population scattered.
“There are more than 6,000 villages and longhouses in Sarawak. To bring development to all is a big challenge,” he told the people of Kampung Krokong, about 60km from here.
“The cost of connecting eight villages is RM8.5mil or an average of RM48,000 per connection. So when people talk about change, of course we want change, we want development. This government is committed to transformation. Others only spread hate and disunity.”
Tengah, who is also Industrial Development Minister and Second Resource Planning and Environment Minister, said no country was perfect.
“I’ve been to the USA, a country that has been independent for hundreds of years. They still have villages with no roads, no water and electricity. At Times Square in New York, there are homeless people begging for money.
“They have no houses. They use cardboards to keep warm. Such a strong country and yet it has many poor people,” he said.
“I’ve been to Moscow, Russia. Not far from the city, there are also villages with no electricity. These are the superpowers (countries). Ladies and gentlemen, our government is changing. Others just want to split us.”
Tengah said rural voters should also consider the history of Sarawak, and their surroundings.
“We know some villages have no roads, no electricity, no water. But we must remember how it used to be like 40 years ago. How has it changed? We must know our history; what came before compared to now.
“We are so much better off in all aspects. That is our politics of development. It keeps people together, gives them self-confidence to explore their own potential,” he said.
The electrification scheme for the eight villages is scheduled for 2012 and 2013.
Tengah hoped the electricity supply would provide more than just comfort.
Under the National Key Economic Areas, the Federal Government had allocated RM1.5bil for rural electricity and RM1.7bil for water supply, he said.
Currently, rural electricity connection in Sarawak is at 74% compared to 84% coverage for the whole of the state.