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the people of Sarawak are given the opportunity again to decide who shall govern Sarawak. This is part of the process in political democracy and voices of the people shall prevail, for sale
it is also time for the people to seek recourse and to decide to whom they shall grant their mandate. People should take this opportune time to pursue social justice and economic justice.
Sarawak is rich in resources, but the people have not fully benefited from the resources as a result of poor governance and ineffective government. There are limited jobs in the state, many Sarawakians have to work in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor and Singapore due to the lack of job opportunities here. Some can only relish the reunion with their family members once in a year as they cannot afford more air tickets.
The incumbent government does not seem to be very concerned about job creation. Sarawak is merely treated as a commodity-exporting state; the resources available in here are simply extracted and shipped out of the state without significant value-added economic activities. Even the hydro potential here is targetted, and there was this notion of exporting hydro-generated electricity to the Peninsular, ignoring the fact that our water resources can be better utilized for aqua-farming and eco-tourism, that would have benefited more Sarawakians.
At the same time, the people are suffering from rising living cost, as a result of GST and depreciation of Malaysian ringgit due to mismanagment by those in power. The people of Sarawak are suffering even more, because of the long-time cabotage policy that has pushed up prices of goods here.
On the other hand, many people in Sarawak are getting less pay compared to workers in Semenanjung for the same jobs they are doing. Beginning 1 July this year, the minimum wage in the Peninsular will be revised from 900 ringgit a month currently to 1,000 ringgit a month, while for Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan it will be from 800 ringgit currently to 920 ringgit. While the revision is a good news for the low-income working class, the minimum wage policy should cease to discriminate against the workers in Sarawak, Sabah and Labuan by imposing a lower level of minimum wage in these places compared to the Peninsular.
Such a policy is also promoting a trend that wages here should be lower than wages in the Peninsular, which is very unhealthy.
Since the implementation of minimum wage policy in 2013, workers in Sarawak as well as Sabah and Labuan have been shortchanged due to the lopsided minimum wage levels. While workers all over the country are carrying out the same jobs, it is unfair for their remunerations to be lopsided.
Apart from earnings and living cost, the people of Sarawak have also not been treated fairly in terms of social development. After 53 years under BN, many people in Sarawak still do not have clean water supply or 24-hour electricity supply, people have to buy diesel every week to fuel their generators. Clinics and schools are still scarce for many Sarawakians in the rural areas, and road access is an issue for many parts of the state.
Unfortunately, all this has not received enough attention from those in power, and this is the time for the people to voice out loud and clear. Only then, the government will listen seriously.