State govt to swap remote 2,000-hectare land granted to Chinese schools board for more valuable land
KUCHING: The state government has agreed to swap the 2,000-hectare land allocated to Sarawak Private Chinese Secondary Schools Charitable Trust with a piece of land that has more economic value.
Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg said this was in view of the appeal made by the board of trustees to the late Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem recently.
“‘Tok Nan (Adenan) had approved a land of 2,000 hectares to the Sarawak Private Chinese Secondary Schools Charitable Trust for them to develop the land and earn income which can be used to manage Chinese schools.
“But apparently, the land is quite far and inaccessible so they have appealed to Tok Nan and he had agreed to this prior to his demise,” he told reporters when met after gracing The Federation of Chinese Associations, Kuching, Samarahan & Serian Divisions, Sarawak 2017 Chinese New Year cum 38th anniversary dinner at a hotel here on Sunday.
He disclosed that the Land and Survey Department was currently identifying a new plot of land which is more conducive.
“I have discussed with our Land and Survey Department director to find the best land where there are existing infrastructure in the area and this enables them to develop the 2,000 hectares and earn income for the Chinese schools.
“However, he has yet informed me on where this new land will be but for certain, there will be swapping of land as the previous one is located in the interior,” he stressed.
The 2,000-hectare land was first pledged by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in 2010 when he was the chief minister to assist Chinese independent schools reduce their financial burden.
In 2014, the Sarawak Private Chinese Secondary Schools Charitable Trust received the letter of approval for the land, which is located between Kapit and Baram.
Abang Johari in his speech earlier, promised to come up with a formula to ensure that Chinese schools in the state would be given annual contribution from the state government.
This was in response to The Federation of Chinese Associations, Kuching, Samarahan & Serian Divisions president Dato Richard Wee’s request in his speech for the annual grant to be passed in the State Legislative Assembly so that it can be part of the State Budget in the future.
“What we can do (instead) is to find a formula where it is agreed that we will give annual contribution to Chinese schools. It is no longer ad hoc but will be based on a certain formula.
“I will discuss this with the Chinese leaders on what is the right formula for us to assist Chinese schools in the state,” he assured.
On another matter, Abang Johari expressed his confidence that Sarawak can move forward and develop itself as well.
“I will definitely try to find a formula in our economy so that Sarawak is strong financially and (will) be financially independent from Putrajaya. This doesn’t mean that we are away from Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya but what we need now is a very strong economic platform for Sarawak and we must have our own policy and approach for us to strengthen our economy,” he remarked.
This, he said, was the reason he decided to form the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. “The economic planning aspect of the ministry will focus on strategic projects. We hope that within six months, we have something coming up that will have a great impact on our economic development.
“I cannot reveal what it is tonight (Sunday) but just wait and see what we are going to do to strengthen our platform and economic muscle towards Sarawak moving forward,” he said.
During the dinner, Abang Johari presented a grant of RM400,000 to The Federation of Chinese Associations, Kuching, Samarahan & Serian Divisions which was received by Wee.
Also present were Abang Johari’s wife Datin Amar Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang, Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon
Koh, Local Government Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, China Consul General in Kuching Fu Jijun, and Federation of Chinese Association Sarawak president Hii Ted Yun.