Something big is up in Sarawak

Road repairs could mean state polls will be held this year, but Delta fears still very much abound

WHEN you see roads being tar-sealed or repaired in Sarawak, it signals that an election is around the corner. 

That’s been the saying I have been hearing since I was a kid living in Kuching, where I used to play in potholes in the middle of the roads – potholes that resembled mini swimming pools.

Now, Sarawakians know something big is up when roads are being tar-sealed, potholes covered up, muddy roads in the interior levelled and gravelled, broken bridges repaired and cheques presented as grants to community bodies statewide.

All state representatives have been told to gather at the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching this Tuesday, with a directive to attend a special Budget 2022 meeting.

Why is it not being held in the state assembly building but in a public venue? Is it because Sarawak is still under a localised health emergency until February next year?

Something big is up in Sarawak – Stephen Then
Sarawakians know something big is up when roads are being tar-sealed, potholes covered up, muddy roads in the interior levelled and gravelled, broken bridges repaired and cheques presented as grants to community bodies statewide. – STEPHEN THEN/The Vibes pic

My guess is that ruling coalition Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will rush into approving the budget after the meeting to avoid any debates in the assembly.

After approving budget goodies, I expect GPS to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to lift the emergency.

The Election Commission will then be asked to prepare for the 12th state election.

If road repairs mean state polls are impending, will Sarawak’s three million-strong population have to brace for another Covid-19 surge? – STEPHEN THEN/The Vibes pic, October 10, 2021
If road repairs mean state polls are impending, will Sarawak’s three million-strong population have to brace for another Covid-19 surge? – STEPHEN THEN/The Vibes pic, October 10, 2021

If GPS goes ahead with the plan to hold an election next month, Sarawak’s three million-strong population will have to brace for another Covid-19 surge aggravated by the Delta variant.

Last week, the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) chairman admitted that there was a high rate of Covid-19 transmissions in urban districts and rural settlements.

Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said this during an event in Kuching.

“When the SDMC made the decision to lift the inter-district travel ban (two weeks ago) and do away with police permits to travel, the transmission of Covid-19 was on a downward trend.

“However, we noticed that the infections brought from urban to rural districts have gone up again. We urged all those who are travelling to their rural longhouses to take extra precautions.

“Utilise self-test kits, think of your families.”

Now, this is ironic. The SDMC lifted many travel restrictions ahead of the state election, but warned the rakyat to take extra precautions.

It did not help when Sarawak recently recorded its youngest Covid-19 death – a 5-year-old boy died of Covid-19 after being admitted to Miri Hospital.

I also heard that Miri Hospital is facing a surge in patients with newly infected people turning up at its door.

It is the same predicament Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching, Sibu Hospital and Bintulu Hospital have found themselves in. The state also tops the list of cumulative Delta cases.

If GPS goes ahead with the state polls this year, the people will face a worst-case scenario due to the spread of the Delta variant. – The Vibes, October 10, 2021

By : Stephen Then (Reporter with The Vibes based in Sarawak) – THE VIBES

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