Posted on 15 Jan 2023
Source of News: The Borneo Post

BAU (Jan 15): The Kuching Autonomous Rail Transit (ART) project is now acknowledged as a good project even by those who had earlier criticised it, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

“Thank God, today someone admits the ART is good. Today they said ‘not bad, we need ART’. Last time, they ‘hentam’ (attacked) me because I wanted to do ART.

“Only now they can value the importance of public transport,” he said at the official opening of Bidayuh Cultural Village (BCV) last night (Jan 14).

Although Abang Johari did not mention any names, he was obviously referring to Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak delegation led by its chairman Chong Chieng Jen who recently visited Sarawak Metro booth at the Centre for Technology Excellence Sarawak (Centexs) to gain a better understanding on the construction plans of Kuching ART.

Abang Johari was speaking about ART when talking about the newly formed Greater Kuching Coordinated Development Agency (GKCDA) and how it has the advantage over other agencies due to it covering areas in the suburbs and just outside Kuching where there are basic infrastructure.

“And you (GKCDA) are going to improve the infrastructure to the extent of extending ART up to Serian and one day maybe going through Bau to Telok Melano,” he said.

He said he had agreed for the setting up of GKCDA to reflect policies that are going to be implemented in Greater Kuching which cover mostly Bidayuh-majority areas.

According to him, areas under Greater Kuching have very good potential for tourism and modern agriculture.

As such, he said it is up to the people to realise this potential through GKCDA.

On another matter, Abang Johari shared a conversation he had with the current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim which proved that Sarawak is now in a stronger economic situation.

“Of course, he had said in a joking manner – ‘Abang Jo, I was given a briefing on the country’s finances. ‘Adoh mak, teruk’ (very bad) you know. Financial position is bad with many debts. ‘Boleh Sarawak kasi saya pinjam kah (Can I borrow from Sarawak)?’. But he said it in a light-hearted way.

“In other words, he acknowledged that Sarawak’s economy is strong. Though we have to fight for our rights under MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963),” he said.

Meanwhile, Education, Innovation and Talent Development Minister Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, who is most senior ranked Bidayuh in the state Cabinet, said GKCDA announced by the Premier last June involved nine state constituencies which cover areas from Sematan until Serian.

“The allocation is RM1.5 billion for GKCDA. What this means is that we hope to develop our Bidayuh areas in such a way benefit in terms of socio-economic activities especially those identified like infrastructure, utilities, agriculture and tourism. Those are the main ones,” said Sagah who is also Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) advisor.

On Bidayuh politics, Sagah said he was sad that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) only managed to win two out of the three Bidayuh-majority seas in the last parliamentary election.

He hoped that Bidayuhs will be united and give their full support to GPS, which is led by Abang Johari, in coming elections.

The Borneo Post

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