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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Monday):
Two days ago whilst launching the book “The New Villages In Malaysia - The Journey Ahead”, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Ong Ka Ting proudly stated that since he took over, he secured development funds of RM326 million under the 8th Malaysian Plan. He added that this contrasted with only RM 120 million given for the previous 30 years from the 2nd to the 7th Malaysian Plan or an average of RM 4 million per year.
The implication of Ong’s statement is shocking in showing the extent of BN neglect of new villages for the past 30 years. For RM 4 million every year for 452 new villages works out to only RM8,850 per new village per year, giving rise to question what type of development can be carried for a new village at only RM 8,850 per year.. No wonder from the 2nd to the 7th Malaysian Plan there was no development of new villages.
Clearly another implication of Ong’s statement is that all previous MCA Ministers since Merdeka who held the post as Minister of Housing and Local Government, were ineffective and useless as none of them could do in 30 years what Ong Ka Ting did in 5 years.
However even though Ong could secure RM 326 million for 2001-5 under the 8th Malaysian Plan as compared to only RM 120 million over the last 30 years, this achievement is nothing to be proud of. In fact the government’s commitment to new villages is questionable when compared to the total rural allocation for development of RM 16.6 billion under the 8th Malaysian Plan.
What is RM 326 million for new villages compared to RM 16.6 billion allocation for rural development or less than 2% under the 8th Malaysian Plan?
For Ong to boast about his success in getting allocation of RM 326 million for new villages, which is part of rural development, as compared to the total amount of RM 16.6 billion is irresponsible, misleading and ridiculous. Ong should state whether is it fair and reasonable that new villages are given less than 2% of RM 326 million out of RM 16.6 million, whilst the remainder RM 16,274 million are given to other villages?
There are 1.3 million people in new villages which are part of Malaysia’s rural population. The share of rural population makes up 37.5% of Malaysia’s 25 million population or 9.4 million living in rural areas. In other words the 1.3 million new villagers make up 14% of the 9.4 million rural population. DAP challenges Ong to state whether there is equality and justice that new villages get less than 2% of the rural allocation when they make up 14% of the rural population.
Ong can only boast of a real success in getting equal treatment for new villages if he can secure their rightful share of development funds in proportion to their population. If Ong is sincere in helping new villagers, why has failed to state his commitment to get equal funding for new villages in proportion to their population under the 9 th Malaysian Plan?
Clearly Ong is using his so-called success in getting development funds in new villages as a weapon against Datuk Chua Jui Meng in the increasingly bitter fight for the MCA Presidency. However Ong should focus more on real successes that ensures new villagers are treated equally and fairly instead of trying to score empty political points that deny new villagers the funds that they should rightfully deserve.