KUCHING: Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Information chief Datuk Idris Buang said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s decision to issue a statement on Sarawak’s debt on Sarawak Day was done in bad taste.
He said rather than extending warm greetings to the state and her people in celebrating the historic day, Lim chose to talk about how the Sarawak government needed to pay back a sum of RM350 million, which is the first phase of the RM1 billion loan repayment agreement, before Putrajaya can begin repairing dilapidated schools in the state.
“Lim has forgotten that the whole of Malaysia owes Sarawak more in many ways, and he forgets that it is the federal government’s constitutional obligation to provide for upkeeping the condition of schools in Sarawak.
“His comment on the matter is undiplomatic, unfriendly and discourteous to Sarawak when Sarawakians are celebrating Sarawak Day,” he said in a statement issued yesterday.
Idris was responding to Lim’s statement issued earlier in which the latter mentioned that the federal government was ready to disburse RM350 million to the Sarawak government to repair dilapidated schools in the state, but only after the Sarawak government paid back the same amount first.
Lim said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had expressed his willingness to pay back the amount to Putrajaya in the near future, as part of the first phase of the RM1 billion loan repayment.
Idris said he felt Abang Johari’s readiness to help out by advancing state funds to ensure Sarawakian schoolchildren need not suffer any further, had been ‘misconstrued’ by Lim, either deliberately or otherwise.
In Lim’s statement, the Finance Minister also reminded the Sarawak government that it still owed Putrajaya RM2.352 billion as of June 30 this year, and that the repayment of the RM1 billion would mean its debt to the federal government would stand at RM1.352 billion. — TheBorneoPost