Debate speech by See Chee How, State Assemblyman for Batu
Lintang, on 17th day of May, 2012 on the Motion to Appreciate the
TYT's Address delivered on 17 May 2012
Thank you for allowing me to participate in this debate on the Motion
of appreciation to His Excellency Tuan Yang Terutama Yang Di Pertua
Negeri's Address on 14 May 2012 and at the same time to raise some
issues in this August House.
First and foremost, I would like to put on record my appreciation for YAB
our Chief Minister's statement yesterday, carried in all the newspapers
today, refuting the West Malaysia based tabloid Metro's article which
carried derogatory remarks against the indigenous Penan community.
Let this be a timely reminder from this August House to the UMNO
regime and its machineries that we Sarawakians will stand together to
defend and safeguard the integrity and interests of all Sarawakians.
His Excellency Yang Di Pertua Negeri has in His address highlighted our
rich resources and our achievements in the Federation.
I have no doubt about our abundance and wealth in our resources but
I am of the respectful opinion that we are an under achiever or made to
look like one, as the wealth that has been generated from our State's'
rich resources are been siphoned off, without much trace.
In conducting economics research on Sarawak, the data from the
Sarawak Department of Statistics are useful, particularly the Sarawak
The Sarawak yearbooks now report only the State GDP in "constant
year 2000" prices. By doing this, it masks the enormous increase in
the actual State GDP resulting from the big increase in our exports,
particularly in the quantities and world prices of natural gas and oil
If the actual GDP numbers for the state are reported in current year
prices, as they used to be, Sarawak's GDP would be shown to be huge,
and on a per capita basis, Sarawak would clearly be the richest state in
Malaysia (except maybe for WP Kuala Lumpur).
Why would this data now be suppressed? One explanation would be
that all this wealth, i.e. production or GDP produced in Sarawak, is not
finding its way actually into the State economy, but rather almost all of it
is going, via Petronas, back to the Federal Government.
This is also saying that Sarawak is not getting a significant share of our
However, from the Statistics Department in our national capital, I have
found a table, "GDP per capita by State for the year 2008-2010 at
Current Price - RM". It shows for 2010 GDP per capita for the whole
country as RM 27,113 (which has since been revised upward), with
Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur at 55,951, Pulau Penang at RM
33,456 and Sarawak in third place at RM 33,307. Given that the census
has Sarawak's 2010 population at 2.42 million, then Sarawak's total
current price GDP for 2010 would then be RM 80.6 billion, far above
the RM50.8 billion listed in the Sarawak Yearbook of Statistics 2011 and
the Sarawak Chief Minister's web page.
I must add that the State Planning Unit in the Chief Minister's Office has
recently come out with a compilation of "Sarawak Facts and Figures
2010" which has provided the 2009 preliminary figures and 2010
forecast of GDP and GDP per capita figures base on current prices.
In the SPU compilation, the GDP for 2010 is forecasted at RM78.4
billion, close to the RM80.6 billion, is also far above the RM50.8 billion
listed in the Sarawak Yearbook of Statistics 2011.
However, the RM 80.6 billion may itself be an underestimate, because
Sarawak's balance of trade surplus in 2010 was over RM50 billion alone.
However, GDP is the sum total of private sector consumption, total
investment, total value of government spending and exports less import
of goods and services. With our trade surplus alone amounts to RM50
billion, the RM80.6 billion is therefore an underestimate.
For 2011 figures, the preliminary data from the February 2012 Monthly
Sarawak Statistics Bulletin shows Sarawak's trade surplus for 2011 at a
whopping RM67.55 billion. This should mean Sarawak's actual GDP for
2011 was over RM100 billion and per capita GDP should have jumped
to over RM40,000 and Sarawak would clearly be the "richest" state in
the country. In most places in the world, the state government would
celebrate this kind of data very publicly as a sign of their success. But
it appears that we are satisfying ourselves with the deflated figures as
shown in the Sarawak Yearbooks of Statistics. There is a need for us to
explain to all Sarawakians where in the world our wealth or our money
This is a pertinent question as our state being the biggest contributor
towards the country's economy should get what we deserve from the
However, we have noticed from the proceedings in this August House
that there seems to be a lack of funds from the federal coffer for
the development projects proposed and planned for Sarawak, be
it public health care, education, infrastructural development, public
transportation, provision of basic amenities, telecommunication and
Where in the world these billions of ringgits have gone to?
How do we account for these missing billions?
Within my Batu Lintang constituency, I appreciate that there is an urgent
need to reconstruct and improve the drainage systems for the earliest
housing estates in Kuching, particularly the Green Road-Maong vicinity
including Poh Kwong Park, Star Garden, Sky Garden, Wee & Wee
Garden and Swee Joo Park, the residential estates along Rock Road
and the Jalan Batu Kawa-Stapok vicinity including RPR Batu Kawa and
Other Honourable Members of this August House are confronted by
constituents demanding access roads to their villages and provision
of basic amenities such as treated drinking water, electricity and
And I am certain that it is the concern of all Honourable Members of this
House that Sarawak needs to upgrade our First Trunk Road system, that
we need to build 9 general hospitals in Sarawak staffed with specialists
and equipped with modern medical technologies to ensure proper
health care for our people, that we need to improve the facilities and
opportunities for the education of our children, from the provision of pre-
school classes to the setting up of more public universities and colleges
Allow me to highlight the issues on rural health care in our state.
It has been brought to my attention that many Specialists' posts in
district hospitals in Sarawak are still not filled. I hope the Honourable
Minister will enlighten this August House as to the number and the
reasons why such a high number of empty posts in Sarawak?
The Honourable Minister has revealed in this August House the high
number of medical specialists vacancies in our hospitals not filled.
What measures is the State Health Department taking to attract doctors
of higher quality to serve government clinics and hospitals in Sarawak?
In the past, the Sabah government offered a state-funded additional
housing allowance to attract doctors to serve there. I would humbly
propose that our State Government do the same here, to provide extra
state-funded allowances for well-trained specialists to serve in smaller
hospitals such as Sarikei, Sri Aman, Kapit, Limbang and Lawas.
Further, we may consider proposing to the federal government to offer
non financial incentives, a worthy suggestion brought up by some
doctors, that if a specialist works at a small district hospital for 1 to 2
year fixed stint, he or she can then choose her next posting anywhere in
the country, and her waiting time to enter subspecialty training would be
shortened from the current three and a half years after passing specialist
exams (two and a half years if the specialist exams are a local Masters
programme lasting 4 years). Forcing doctors to work in small rural district
hospitals may cause them to become resentful and makes patient care
It is indeed not uncommon to hear complaints of rural communities
regarding poorly qualified and incompetent Medical Officers in
district hospitals and clinics, many of whom are expatriates from less
developed countries than Malaysia. It is understand that such complaints
usually lead to transfer of the officers, instead of disciplinary action or
referrals to the Malaysian Medical Councillors for punitive action. But
would not transferring them away be a reward for poor performance?
The shortcomings of our rural health care services has to be addressed
in this August House as it concerns care for the rural poor which is
purportedly meant to be mainly financed from general taxation. I would
respectfully propose that our State insists on exemption being given
to those of the indigenous communities with a monthly household
income of below RM912, that such notices of exemption be display at all
conspicuous places in all our hospitals and clinics.
Closer to home, I am most hopeful that the Honourable Minister taking
charge of public health will enlighten us as to the dates the last air
quality tests were carried out in our hospitals and polyclinics and when
such tests are scheduled next.
The air quality in our Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching has been
a matter of grave concern after the renovation works that had been
carried out in 2008, suspected to be a major factor contributing to the
unexplained and unnecessary deaths in the Hospital.
Families are always told that the deaths of the loved ones are due to
But, it is suspected that the air in the SGH is contaminated by deadly
mould spores, a matter that is not uncommon in our hospitals as 7
hospitals in Sabah had failed the air quality tests in the most recent
I am hopeful that the Health Department will engage an air quality expert
soonest to conduct tests and determine the air quality in our SGH and all
the other hospitals and district hospitals throughout Sarawak.
I am in contact with a member of the team of experts who carried out
the air quality tests in the hospitals in Sabah. He is willing to come and
assist us and actually offers to provide his professional expertise to
conduct the tests in our hospital, free of charge.
I hope that our Honourable Minister taking charge of public health will
take this generous offer and conduct the necessary tests soon, as an
assurance to the public of the safety and quality of our public health care
services in our hospitals.
With that I conclude my speech.