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Rice fiasco: Jabu must resign

Jabu ak Numpang - an ingratiation of Taib Mahmud and a man without principle.

by Joseph Tawie

Where have all the fertilisers given to defunct mini rice estates gone?

KUCHING: The opposition has called for Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu’s resignation over the failure of millions of ringgit worth of mini rice estates in the state and the government’s inability to meet its much publicised target of reaching 70% self-sufficiency in rice production by last year.

Describing the state of mini rice estates in Sarawak as “shocking and neglected”, Meradong assemblywomen, Ting Tze Pui, said Jabu, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture Minister, “should resign”.

“Many paddy estates in Sarawak have either failed or gone defunct.

“I personally visited Bundong-Sian mini estate on Nov 11, 2011, when it is supposedly paddy seedlings transplanting season.

“I was surprised that there were no workers in the paddy fields in the mini-estate. The estate seems to be in a shocking state of abandonment and neglect.

“Upon seeing this, I felt disheartened… It looks like millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money has gone down the drain,” she said during the debate on the 2012 budget.

The 410 hectares of Bundong Sian mini rice estate was one of 16 areas identified by the state in 2005 in its bid to reach self-sufficiency in rice.

Still dependent

A much publicised state government policy had spelt out plans to increase the local rice production from 35 per cent in 2000 to 50 percent by 2005 and 70 percent by 2010.

Sarawak was to attain 100% self-sufficiency in rice production by 2015.

In 2008, former deputy chief minister George Chan proclaimed in the State Legislative Assembly that “as far as rice production is concerned, the state has achieved a self-sufficiency level of 53 percent”.

But a shocking disclosure by the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture earlier this month put paid to that spin.

According to the official, Sarawak was only able to achieve 30 to 35 percent self-sufficiency in rice production.

Adding salt to wound, the Sibu Rice Wholesaler Association also earlier this month said 80 percent of the white rice consumed in Sarawak is imported from Thailand and Vietnam.

Fertiliser subsidies

Another irony, according to Ting, is the fact that defunct mini rice estates are still receiving their fertiliser quotas.

“I am given to understand that there are still mini paddy estates which are receiving fertilisers. Are they still receiving fertiliser subsidies from the government?

“We want to know what has happened to those fertilisers which are not used?

“Are they being sold at the expense of the rakyat?

“There are many farmers who need fertilisers. Yet year in and year out, when they apply for fertilisers, they are not given any,” she said, adding that Jabu had a lot to explain.

“Can the minister provide us the answers?

“If the minister is unable to answer the above concerns satisfactorily, he should resign gracefully and immediately,” Ting said.

Source: FMT

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