By Sandra Sokial
KOTA KINABALU, April 3:
For education-related development projects to be expedited and implemented successfully in the state,Sabah should be given the authority to decide its own fate.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun, who said this, also attributed the failure to fully implement federal government programmes in Sabah to Putrajaya.
Speaking when launching a seminar on Malaysia Education Development Plan (PPPM) on Tuesday, the minister in charge of education said even trivial matters with regard to the tender of food supplies were decided by Putrajaya. Thus, a lot of time was wasted.
In this day and age, such incidents should not happen any more, particularly when everything needed to be done swiftly, he said.
“School projects in Sabah are neglected due to issues like the cement problem. If the power to decide is given to the state education director, we have ample and able contractors to carry out these projects, but we still have to get the authorisation from Putrajaya.”
Masidi said he was not voicing these issues because he was against it. He said he was fully supportive of the federal government’s plans for Sabah and wanted to see all the programmes realised.
“I have outlined each of the problems faced in the education sector (in Sabah), and I have also gone through the process of implementing the education programmes in Sabah. It is fraught with problems and challenges due to the authority,”
Masidi said the people of Sabah were not ungrateful to the federal government, but were concerned because Sabahans did not want to see the billions of ringgit spent to go to waste if the end result remained unsatisfactory.
He outlined four issues that needed to be considered for the successful implementation of federal government programmes in Sabah.
Contracts given to companies outside state
The first issue touched on the decision-making powers given to state directors and/or any federal government agencies based in Sabah as often contracts were given to companies from outside the state.
“We are not angry that others get these projects, but let it (the granting of projects) be balanced. Unfortunately, everything goes to the peninsula. This is also one of the factors contributing to the challenges in implementation of projects in Sabah.”
Secondly, locals should be given the opportunity to implement projects related to the PPPM in Sabah and authorise the district education officer to monitor and be responsible for the implementation of these projects.
He also called for the decentralisation of decision-making, citing that Sabah was far from Peninsular Malaysia and that there were many federal government officers in Sabah who were capable decision makers.
In fact, he said, Sabahans must be considered for federal government posts in Sabah and that minor posts such as assistant lab technicians in the state must be given to the people in the state.
“If these posts are given to those in Peninsular Malaysia, then the people of Sabah will die.
“These matters may seem trivial, but they are important to raise our spirit to continue with the success of the national plan.”
Lastly, Masidi called for the setting up of a secretariat in Sabah to look after the successful implementation of PPPM in Sabah because it was vital to ensure the plan continued to be relevant till 2025.