Speech (3) by Lim Kit Siang at the Tawau DAP Thousand-People “Towards A New Era” dinner at Lau Gek Poh Memorial Hall, Tawau on Saturday, 15th November 2008 at 9 pm: 

Parliament is debating 2009 Budget with a RM7 billion “black hole” as the economic stimulus package has not been incorporated into the 2009 Budget nor parliamentary approval sought

Yesterday, the Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman presented a walloping RM2.78 billion budget for the state for 2009, declaring that the amount allocated would be able to keep up the economic momentum to ensure Sabah’s continuous growth, especially amidst the current economic turmoil.

He also announced a higher state development fund for next year to the tune of RM1.040 billion.

Very impressive but where have all the past billion-ringgit development funds for Sabah gone to, and will the huge budget and massive develoment funds announced by Musa yesterday go the way of past funds – disappearing into thin air instead of translated into projects on the ground to directly benefit the people?

In Tawau this morning, I visited Jalan Sin Onn, an important artery for Tawau but which is choked with traffic. The Barisan Nasional Government had promised to build Jalan Sin Onn into a four-lane dual carriageway, way back in the Seventh Malaysia Plan as part of its “Sabah Baru” manifesto to capture power in Sabah state.

It was in the Seventh Malaysia Plan as well as in the Eighth Malaysia Plan. It is now in the Ninth Malaysia Plan but will it again be shunted to the Tenth Malaysia Plan into a ‘never-never” future, without a single foot of construction?

Jalan Sin Onn has become a daily traffic nightmare in broad daylight in Tawau.

I will meet the Works Minister, Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed in Parliament to check on the status of the upgrading of Jalan Sin Onn in Tawau.

The Sabah Chief Minister should not talk about development in Sabah until he can resolve once and for all the basic infrastructure problems like regular and efficient power and water supply.

We just launched my new book “The Cries of Sabah”, which also highlighted the development nightmare of Sabahans to the extent that it is said that “If there is no power disruption in Sabah, then it’s not Sabah” and where SESB stands for “Sabah Everyday Sure Blackout”!

The power breakdown in Tawau in the last two days were so bad (I am told that the people of Tawau and Sabah have become quite numbed to such disruptions) that it had turned Tawau’s daily newspaper, Morning Post, into an evening paper, as it could only be printed and distributed at 4 pm!

All over the world, governments are preparing their countries to face the world’s worst economic crisis in 80 years. China has announced a US$586 billion economic stimulus package while South Korea unveiled a US$11 billion stimulus package.

In the United States, Congress is working with the Bush Administration to craft a US$700 billion bailout of troubled US banks.

Malaysia, however, is an oddity. Although the government has announced a measly RM7 billion economic stimulus package when winding up the debate on the 2009 Budget on November 4, this RM7 billion economic stimulus package is quite a mirage as it has not been formally presented to Parliament by way of an amendment to the 2009 Budget and is therefore not before Parliament for approval when every sen of government expenditure must be passed by the House.

This is why there is a complete air of unreality in the 2009 Budget debate, as there is a RM7 billion “black hole” so long as the economic stimulus package has not been incorporated into the 2009 Budget and placed on the agenda for parliamentary approval.

This RN7 billion “black hole” in the 2009 Budget is completely indefensible and unacceptable. The Prime Minister-designate Datuk Seri Najib Razak has got very lousy advisers who could land him in such a trouble as not complying with parliamentary procedures and practices in seeking a formal approval from Parliament for the RM7 billion package.

He should rectify this gross mistake without any delay or he would seen as acting in a very arrogant and supercilious manner in his relationship with Parliament – five months before he actually become Prime Minister!

* Lim Kit Siang,  DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor