Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Debate Speech By YB Andy Chia Chu Fatt , ADUN N-64 Pujut

I’m pleased to read below debate speech by YB Andy Chua ADUN N-64 Pujut Miri.
I guess some of the issues he raised really need an urgent attention from the government. Drain system maintenance is one of the issue that should be looked seriously by the concern authority. With the monsoon season coming soon most of the drain systems in Miri needs to be upgraded urgently especially in the areas where flash flood always incurred during heavy down pour. Drain system around Piasau and Taman Yakin are some of those areas.

Personally I will say that in general he has brought up the Mirian peoples needs and concerns. I’m sure the Mirian peoples are looking forwards for it to bear fruitful result not just for the betterment of Miri peoples but also for all Sarawakian in general.

Debate Speech By YB Andy Chia Chu Fatt , ADUN N-64 Pujut
Supply (2010) Bill, 2009

Thank you Datuk Sri Speaker for giving me the opportunity to join other honourable members of this august House to debate on the Supply (2010) Bill, 2009.

I wish to congratulate YAB Chief Minister and Minister of Finance for tabling yet another balance budget and achieving an eighth consecutive year of clean bill of health by the Auditor General. Although we enjoy a strong financial position, we need to exercise prudence and good management of resources to ensure that we remain a financially strong state. It is indeed heartening to note that the Budget Speech has emphasized on the civil service being disciplined and the importance of exercising stringent control over expenditures.

The State’s revenue relies substantially on the compensation in lieu of oil & gas rights of RM1,220 million which forms about 34% of the total revenue of RM3579 million for 2010. Oil & gas are gradually depleting resources unless new fields are found. It is therefore of utmost importance that we diversify our revenue base. The successful implementation of SCORE is therefore of paramount importance as this will likely create a new revenue base for the state coffers. We must also look into other source of revenue for the State coffers in the future so that we can continue to maintain development growth.
The early generation housing estates in Miri are around 30 years old. The infrastructure in these housing estates are in urgent need of repairs and maintenance.

Drains and roads will eventually give problems as to their functionality. The Miri City Council does not have the finance to carry out repairs and maintenance in a large scale. It will need assistance from either the State or the Federal government to provide financial grants to enable it to carry out the repairs and maintenance. I hope the State government and Federal government will provide funds for such expenses.

Although the State is given oil & gas royalty of 5%, we must convince the Federal government to provide additional funding from its oil & gas revenue to assist the State to improve its infrastructure. The Federal government must realize that Sarawak is almost the size of Peninsular Malaysia, & it therefore requires much larger budget to build various infrastructure, including the highway that links Kuching to Miri, & to Lawas. This ‘pan Borneo’ highway needs to be upgraded for the convenience of road users and also to ensure that it is safer for motorists.

Internet Connection Services
The internet has become a very important form of communications and information for the Sarawak people. The usage has gain tremendous popularity over the years. The fixed line internet services have by far been the most popular. The internet is not only widely used for social communications, researches, information gathering and casual recreational & pastime tool, it is now widely used for businesses communications and education. The popularity of fixed line internet services has created a ‘congestion’ of the internet facilities. Fixed line services are of course the monopoly of a company called Telekom Malaysia. The internet services in Miri are often very slow and break down occasionally. Telekom Malaysia as a monopoly company should look into the services in Miri. It must be a responsible monopoly company. Otherwise, the government ought to break the monopoly so that better services are provided to the people. The slow internet speed and occasional breakdowns have caused great inconveniences to all users. Business communications have suffered as a result. I urge Telekom Malaysia to quickly look into the problems in Miri and put in place a long term solution to eradicate the problems.

I am indeed delighted to read the recent announcement by YAB Prime Minister that more than 1.2 million households and business premises in the country will be wired up with optical fibre to enable them to access mega-speed internet connection. It was mentioned that Telekom Malaysia has been tasked with laying the optical fibre and is expected to complete half by next year. I hope Miri will be included in the program.

Landslides in Miri in 2009
Abnormal weather in January and April 2009 was devastating for the people in Sarawak as floods and landslides caused death and damaged properties. The major landslides along the Canada Hill in Miri caused the death of two workers in a petrol station and damaged a number of houses at Kampong Lering Bukit. While we see massive earth work to repair the site of the petrol station, the site of the houses at Kampong Lering Bukit have been left largely untouched. It is understandable that there is fear amongst both the authorities and the house occupants that it may not be safe to return to the homes without a satisfactory report to indicate that it is safe to return to do so. I hope the relevant authority will expedite the process of safety assurance or come out with a swift long term solution for the kampong people who are affected by the landslides as they have been staying in temporary homes through the generosity of the government and its agencies for more than six months now.

The abnormal weather had also caused damages to few other parts of the Canada Hill this year. Part of the road that leads to the SIB Church and Methodist Church on top the Canada Hill near to the St Joseph’s Primary School, Miri, was badly damaged due to the land slide. The road has become unsafe for road users and church goers. A few thousands Christians use the road to go to their churches every week. The church leaders are concern for the safety of the road. Up to now, due to all sorts of reasons, the damage to the road has not been repaired. I urge the government to quickly take actions to repair this stretch of road so that it is safe for the many road users. Please give them a Christmas present by making good that road before 25th December this year.

Oil & Gas Industry in Miri
Shell has been in Miri, Sarawak since 1910. The company has played a significant role in the development of Miri during the last nearly 100 years. There are many infrastructures, public facilities and amenities that were completed by Shell during those years. Indeed apart from the government, the influence of Shell in the economic, social and cultural activities in Miri has been most important in shaping Miri as it is today. The success of Miri as a cosmopolitan city has also been largely due to this influence.

The last 40 years have seen many ups and downs of the oil & gas industry in Miri. Production of oil moved offshore as the land oil fields became uneconomical to produce in the 70’s. The offshore oil & gas productions started a new spate of economic activities that created another boom, and it started the economic growth of nearby town, Bintulu. Since then, the industry had suffered and enjoyed good and bad times caused mainly by the volatile oil prices which at one time dropped to below US$10 per barrel.

Shell, being an international oil giant, dictates its strategic operations policies from Europe, mainly from the Hague and London. Being a business concern, the policies are often dictated by profitably which in turn is determined by the prices of oil in the world market. The past three decades have seen three adverse oil price situations affecting the profitably of the oil giants. Like the rest of the world, Shell offices in Miri were therefore not spared whenever the company introduced reengineering policies, restructuring policies and reorganizing policies. Each strategic policy meant loss of jobs.

The dip in oil prices from the high of around US$147 a barrel to less than US$40 a barrel in 2008 had yet created another round of reorganizing activities. Shell in Miri has recently announced that it is reorganizing its operations worldwide. It means another round of jobs loss. Information available indicates that almost all Shell staff in Miri are required to reapply for jobs within the company, as part of the reorganizing exercise. Although there were indications that job losses for permanent staff are going to be minimal, there are great concerns by the local Shell staff that they may lose their jobs.
Miri is the Operations Headquarters of Shell Asia Pacific Region. For this reason, there are many expatriate staff in Miri. We welcome and encourage the continuous establishment of this arrangement as it brings along enormous economic activities to Miri City.

I urge the state government to set up a special committee to look into the oil & gas operations in Sarawak. The primary aims must be to look after the development of this industry for the benefit of the local economy and the creation of and protection of jobs for the local people.

As of now, many local Shell employees are concerned of their future in the company. Most of this people have given their whole live to Shell. They are naturally concerned that they may lose their jobs during the current reorganization exercise. While it is understandable that the policy of restructuring affects Shell employees worldwide, we must engage Shell to emphasize that local qualified people must be given priority in the positions available within Malaysia offices and operations. We must protect the interests of our own Sarawakians and Malaysians.

The state government should meet and talk to Shell to see what incentives we can offer to them to ensure that Shell’s main office and operations remain in Miri and Sarawak. The federal government gives all sorts of incentives to foreign investors to attract them to the Johore’s Iskandar Development. I see no reasons why the federal government and state government cannot give attractive incentives to attract Shell and other international companies to invest more into the Miri/ Bintulu area. We must do so immediately. It is time to market ourselves more aggressively in order to protect our economic activities and job market.

Other oil producing states like Terengganu and Sabah have influenced Petronas to give priorities to their local based companies in the award of tenders, etc. This serves to promote local businesses. I would urge the state government to do the same. We should request Petronas and other oil producing companies to give priority to local Sarawak based and owned companies for contracts of supply and services in Sarawak. For example, we can request that all contracts worth RM5 million and below must be awarded to Sarawak based and owned companies. We must exercise this influence now, for the protection and promotion of our local companies in Sarawak.

The Case of Marina Anak Undau @ Unau
Marina Anak Undau @ Unau’s unsuccessful application for university matriculation course despite getting 9As and 1B in her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations created headlines recently. Apparently it was due to the fact that she was considered not a bumiputra under Article 161A, Clause 6 of the Federal Constitution. I support the call of many Barisan Nasional leaders and YB of this august House for this clause to be amended to ensure that the natives of Sarawak can enjoy the same privileges as those in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.

It is sad that a young Malaysian who had achieved such a good examination result was deprived of the chance to further her study in local university just because she was considered not a bumiputra. Malaysia has come along way since its formation in 1963. We now have so many local universities and colleges compared to those early years in the 1970s. We must therefore give all young Malaysians with good examination results an opportunity to pursue tertiary education, irrespective of race. After all it is important for the nation to develop and train young Malaysians who will eventually form the backbone of the country’s development and growth. The future of our country lies in the hands of good, loyal and intelligent young Malaysians. We must do it for the sake of the future of our nation. Otherwise we will find it difficult to compete with our neighbouring countries which are producing an excellent pool of well educated work force and offering all sorts of incentives to attract well educated and skilled people into their countries. We must make the change now to be more and remain competitive in this borderless world.

It is often heard that interview panels from government departments and agencies consist only of officers from the Federal offices or of one particular race. We hear that they sometimes do not understand our diverse ethnic races and culture. This often resulted in unfair statements made and unsuccessful results for the local applicants. We should ensure that interview panels for education placements, jobs, licenses, etc have some local Sarawak representations and multi-racial contents so that there is an understanding of the locals, & hopefully a better communication, and a better & fairer result for the applicants.

University and Human Resources Development in Sarawak
One of the key determining factors which will determine the success of SCORE is the availability of quality manpower that is well trained, skilful and knowledgeable. I am happy to note that the State has in the last one decade focus on the establishment of institutions of higher learning and skill development centre. Sarawak has five universities namely, UNIMAS, UITM, UPM, Swinburne and Curtin. There are also two polytechnics, and three skill development and training centre. Two of the universities are international universities from Australia. They have enable students who can not afford to go overseas to pursue a well recognized Australian university degree locally. This has not only helped these students but also helped the State by saving foreign exchange.

Curtin University Sarawak Campus is now 10 years old. It started in 1999 with a population of just over 200 students. It has 2553 students currently. Malaysian students constitute 2179 (85.35%) of the enrolment of which 1223 (56.13%) are from Sarawak. All Sarawakians who are enrolled into Curtin University Sarawak are eligible to apply for loans from Yayasan Sarawak to pay the course fees. They are required to commence repayment of the loans when they graduate and are gainfully employed.

International students from about 34 countries form about 14.65% of the university population and this is expected to grow progressively over the years.

Graduate employment rates are at a significantly high level and engineering and business graduates are well regarded by employer groups due to high standard of the courses in particularly the engineering courses.

The outcome of the quality and planning process has been the successful completion of the Australian Universities Quality Agency audit, several programme accreditations by Malaysian and international professional bodies and the invitation by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency to be one of eight universities in Malaysia to be audited for institutional self-accreditation purposes.

Amongst the many successes of Curtin students in Sarawak is the recent development of a single chip of a size 5cm x 3cm which is pasted on the chest and connected to a handphone using a cable to read heartbeat signals and ECG signal. The heartbeat reading can then be sent in the form of SMS to doctors in hospital. This is developed by a 3rd year Electronics Engineering student, Nurul Jameela, who made front page headline in the Borneo Post recently for her project.

Doctors who received the SMS can choose to pre-diagnose the user and reply back in SMS. The user will save time and cost with this system as pre-diagnose did earlier can determine whether the user needs to go to the hospital for further check up.

This system might seem nothing much for those who have easy and quick access to the hospital. But the benefit is enormous for those who are living in Sarawak remote areas.

Curtin University Sarawak also offers Master Degree in Project Management. I would encourage government officers and the private sector who are involved in project management to take up the course.

Indeed Curtin University Sarawak has come a long way. The University has brought affordable quality tertiary education to all Sarawakians, and at the same time help create quality human resources which are of paramount importance to the development of Sarawak as we move towards the ‘SCORE’ era. The BN government under YAB Chief Minister, and YB Deputy Chief Minister who is also the honourable member for Piasau must be congratulated for having the foresight to bring Curtin University to Miri.

Advertising Signboards
The Local Authorities (Advertisements) By-laws, 2005 was introduced into the state of Sarawak on 1st January 2006 to regulate the advertisements as well as generate some funds for the Councils.

The fee payable for Advertisement signboard of RM350 per year for every square metre or part thereof is considered high. Information available indicates that the fee payable for Kuala Lumpur ranges from RM16 to RM18 per square meter and for Johore, it is from RM7 to RM12 per square meter. For comparison purpose, a typical signboard of a company occupying 5 shop lots will have to pay around RM13,000 per year for its signboard. Any trademark or brand name which exceeds 50% of the total area of a signboard is treated as advertisement and therefore attracts the charges. It is common for a company signboard to include its brand name or the names of its major products for substantial part of its signboard.

The night scene of many progressive cities in the east Asia is generally made attractive by the neon lights of the advertising signboards. As we encourage tourism and business activities in our towns and cities, we should encourage tasteful and well designed advertisement signboards. These will add colours to our night scene and at the same time generate revenue for the local councils.

Roads and Bridges in Miri
The bottle neck at the Pujut 7 to Permyjaya Township is at the two lanes bridge across the Sungai Miri. The residents of some 20,000 homes & industrial buildings in Permyjaya & Senadin and the many heavy vehicles that travel to & from the Kuala Baram Port and the Kuala Baram industrial Estate cause traffic jam on both sides of the bridge every day. It is of great importance that another two lanes bridge be constructed to ease this congestion. There were talks of a by-pass from the Kuala Baram Port to the Miri Airport. It is very important for this by-pass to be constructed so that business vehicles going to the port and the Kuala Baram Industrial Estate will no longer use the congested Pujut Road and the Pujut 7 bridge, which will in turn ease traffic congestion in this area.

The Pujut Highway near to the Pujut Corner Flyover is where we see scores of people, young & old, running across the width of the wide road to cross to the other side whole day long. This poses a real danger for both the pedestrians and the motorists. There is an urgent need to build an overhead bridge for the benefit and safety of the pedestrians. In fact overhead bridges should also be built near to the Chung Hua Primary School, Pujut and the SMK Dato Permaisuri where school pupils and sometime, with their parents, run across the Pujut Highway every weekday. I plead with the government to plan and construct the overhead bridges as soon as possible.

Sport Facilities
I wish to express my gratitude and thanks to federal government and state government in granting multi purpose sport facilities in my constituency of Pujut. Indeed it was with the speedy assistance of the State government and the Land Office that the lands were quickly identified and approved for the construction of the courts. The sport facilities will help promote healthy social and recreational activities for the youths staying in my constituency. In fact , the feedback have been very encouraging for this type of project. We must continue to build more sport facilities for the people throughout Sarawak.

The Outdoor Stadium in Miri has plenty of space underneath the grandstand and concrete seats surrounding the stadium. We can make use of this space by constructing offices that can be allocated to each of the sport clubs in Miri to help them promote the game of sport, as many do not have office, store or meeting facilities. In fact the spaces are big enough to provide for some sport facilities like table-tennis.

Bicycle Lanes
Although this topic has been brought up in this august House last year, but unfortunately did not get a favourable response, I feel that the government should perhaps plan bicycle lanes for the future. A recent Bernama news article features the German Ambassador, Dr Gruber, who cycles to his office in Kuala Lumpur every day. He is advocating a ‘green’ city, and also a healthy one for its citizen. A recent charity cycling event in Miri attracted more than 200 cyclists. There was a loud ‘yes’ response to bicycle lanes when the question was asked during the charity cheques presentation. Although our weather here may not be as conducive to cycling like the western countries, it must be noted that only 40 years ago, the most popular mode of transport in towns was cycling. If we plan correctly, and plant trees to give shade to the bicycle lanes, cycling will regain popularity again, both for commuting as well as a recreational sport. We may see greener cities and towns in Sarawak in the future as a result. And we will definitely have a healthier new generation in the future.

Buildings with Heritage Values in Miri
There are not many buildings with long history in Miri. The government rest house [formerly the colonial Resident’s residence] on top of Tanjong Lobang Hill and the current Resident and District Office are some of the few unique buildings from the colonial days. I urge the government to gazette these two buildings as our heritage so that they can be preserved as historical buildings for the benefit of future generations to come.

Dato Sri Speaker,
Tun Mahathir phrased the development of Sarawak when he was here recently. The President of Bosnia Herzegovina had also given high phrases for the State. I am really perplexed why honourable members of the opposition can’t see it. Please give credits when credits are due.

I wish to congratulate Dato Sri Speaker in the way you conduct the preceedings in this sitting and thank all the staff here who have helped make the current sitting smooth running.

Before I conclude, Dato Sri Speaker, I wish all muslim Hari Aidil Adha, all Christians in this grand august House a very Merry Christmas and everyone in this building a very happy, healthy and successful 2010.

On that note, Dato Sri Speaker, I wish to express my support for the Supply (2010) Bill, 2009 and the Motion to refer the Resolution on the Estimates of Development Expenditure, 2010.

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