Wednesday 20 April, 2016
On today’s show, we consider the state of Sarawak’s rural healthcare. The people in the countryside are often thought to be the picture of health and perhaps they once were until someone builds an aluminum smelting plant in their midst. Matek anak Geram, native to Balingian, has just returned from a seminar in Pahang attended by local and international observers, doctors, professors and experts alike. This is a worldwide concern and Australian delegates shared how even their high-ranking officials have been implicated in this dirty business, just as here in Sarawak. But those who suffer the effects are the ones on the ground, with cancer, skin problems and even vision problems resulting, to the extent that one young boy died in 2013. How can we change the lot of the rural population? Change the policy makers, he says!
Then we have an interview with a medical professional, Dr Yo. She shares how lack of rural healthcare facilities impacts on the population of Sarawak with long journeys of up to a day and half to clinics that are under-equipped and under-staffed. She draws comparisons with health systems overseas where citizens can expect to call an ambulance and then expect them to arrive within 15 minutes – a far cry from the Sarawak people who cannot even get a phone signal to call! After many years of underfunding, the promised budget was lopped instead of expanded. Does the future of rural health look rosy in Sarawak? Tune in for part 2 tomorrow.
The community in Sabatu, Suai Niah are still waiting for an answer for the Yuwang group who cut off their road at the weekend. Countdown until tomorrow, says Usan, when blockade commences!
Adenan is courting a controversy that simply will not go away in his decision to field a series of candidates from the logging industry. Like Najib, presumably, they do not come empty-handed. Far from following up his promise to curb their activities and protect the forest, he seems to be giving them license to influence policy in their favour. For an industry so plagued by allegations of corruption and cronyism to be given such position, Cynthia Gabriel of C4 sees appalling potential. The pro-rural smallholder policy looks set to be bulldozed along with the remains of the forest as Adenan dines with KTS, Ta Ann and Samling in style. Once they are elected, she advises, there is no going back.
Adenan Satem has challenged the Opposition to fight him in the state elections using local issues rather than national. But the links are unavoidable. Why did Najib Razak gave Bustari Yusof, a local Sarawakian, one million ringgit? Bustari Yusof is the brother of Fadillah Yusof who is Sarawak’s Minister of Public Works, and without public tender, was awarded the 27 billion ringgits contract to build the Pan Borneo Highway! Additionally, Bustari Yusof, a close friend of Najib Razak, also received the contract to be the health services provider in Sarawak. So, one begins to wonder why Najib makes a weekly visit to Sarawak.
We end with Abang Kassim of Lingga who tells us that the Malay communities face the same issues as everyone else, land, GST and 1MDB. The younger generation are more aware, he says, through social media, and are embracing change, while the veterans are still being bought off with BR1M.
Tune in for all this and more, plus our Borneo Bulletin.
Semoa kitai tau bejako!