Tiong King Sing, who is the SPDP MP for the BN stronghold of Bintulu, has just confirmed what opposition parties and civil rights groups have said for years, which is that decades of rule by BN in Sarawak failed to distribute wealth or modernise the state in any meaningful way for ordinary people:
“I am not talking about tar-sealed roads here, suffice if he could have provided treated water supply and power supply to our rural folks,”
the smartly dressed Tiong announced to reporters.
By “he” Tiong meant the former head of the Federal Government to which this MP and his party belong. Dr Mahathir was fawned over by the likes of Tiong and his political colleagues during all the decades he ran BN and then after, while he remained a powerful icon of UMNO. Not a whisper of complaint heard from fellows like Tiong during all that time.
Tiong claims he wrote letters begging for money for development, so how come we only hear about them now? Is it because the veteran of Malaysian politics has now taken a stand against the blatant corruption of his successor that Mr Tiong is finally piping up?:
“Dr Mahathir owes Sabah and Sarawak an apology for failing to give sufficient funds to develop rural areas in the two states,”
he has belatedly announced. Yet, this begs the question why Tiong and his extremely wealthy political allies, who remain MPs in BN, not only failed to publicly criticise this lack of development in all that time but they even denied it was the case. They called it lies by the opposition instead.
And if there was a lack of federal funding towards such vital amenities, why was there also lack of state funding, given all the timber and oil palm concessions awarded at that time?
Tiong belongs to Willaim Mawan’s pro-Taib/pro-BN SPDP party, which for years has supported the exploitation of Sarawak both at federal and state level. When opposition campaigners lamented that the resource rich state had been stripped bare of timber by the Sarawak State Government but that local people had still not even received basic support, these parties scoffed and told them to ‘stop harping on’ about such matters.
Local BN parties even had the gall to support Taib Mahmud’s outrageous claims to have brought ‘progress and modernisation’ to Sarawak, whereas in fact all that had been achieved was enormous wealth for a tiny political elite consisting of Mr Tiong King Sing’s colleagues, many of whom are fabulously rich.
Whilst these BN politicians have grown to enjoy marbled palaces and flash cars and have travelled freely first-class around the world, ordinary folk have been left to drink from rivers polluted by oil palm, logging and unsafe factories. Investment from all that profit has not gone into Sarawak, but into private enterprises in Canada, the United States, Australia and the UK which are owned by these very politicians.
Yet, Tiong and his colleagues during all this time had the brass neck to accuse opposition critics of ‘not caring about bringing development to the people’ or ‘having no strategy for development’, claiming that ‘only BN’ could achieve such goals, when in fact, as he has now openly admitted, over an entire half century they have done nothing but enrich themselves.
So, what folly of Tiong to now turn on his old boss with this devastating accusation, which is none other than a public admission of his own complicity and failure to stand up for the interests of the people he ought to have represented.
One assumes that under BN Tiong King Sing has himself gained access to running water, power supplies and even tarred roads in his home area? Indeed, one assumes he has done considerably better than that. However, he now finally admits that his constituents have not.
So, why did he support BN during all this time? Why did he not at least make his continuing support conditional on the development he complains is still lacking? Why, instead did he accept along with all his BN colleagues under Taib, that Sarawak’s oil reserves should be sucked out for the benefit of the Federal Government (of which he is an MP) with barely any investment back into the state?
And why did he allow his colleagues to chastise the opposition for demanding a bigger percentage of that royalty, which was part of the opposition manifesto but rejected by Najib?
Even more to the point, why is this well-heeled MP not equally criticising his own State Government colleagues of this period for failing to divert any of the vast timber revenues gained over the very same period towards this development that is so plainly lacking? Billions and billions of ringgit were obtained from the felling of an entire tropical jungle, yet almost none of that either was spent on Sarawak development.
Sarawak could just have easily been developed through those timber resources as through federal spending. But, the money went instead into the pockets and investments of Tiong King Sing’s wealthy political colleagues and the state leaders whom he loyally supported through all this period, just as he had supported Mahathir at a federal level.
Sarawak has become, once again, the key ‘safe deposit’ of seats that Najib is desperately working to keep in order to retain BN in office. Tiong King Sing’s own seat is one of these and he will be campaiging to keep the very government in power that he has now criticised by criticising Dr Mahathir’s past record.
The fact that the veteran PM has himself now joined the side that is fighting the corruption of which Tiong still remains a part is, of course, the reason for this misplaced and self-revealing criticism by the local MP.
Mr Tiong should keep up this line of comment, because everyone can see it for what it is, except apparently himself. It is an admission of failure and past lies by himself and his party.