(Miri, Thursday): Sarawak leads all the 13 states in Malaysia in having the most schools with no power supply or limited power supply - which is an indication of the socio-economic backwardness of the state despite the rich resources and the great wealth of a few in the state.
Out of 1,273 schools without electricity supply or limited supply in the country, 632 are from Sarawak, which represents about 50 per cent of all schools in Malaysia without power supply or limited supply.
Sarawak is even worse off than Sabah, as Sarawak has 537 schools without power supply and 95 schools with limited supply, making a total of 632 schools, while Sabah has 244 schools without power supply and 251 with limited supply, making a total of 495 schools.
This is a great shame to Sarawak and the Federal and the Sarawak State Government should form a Special Joint Commission to ensure that all the 632 schools in Sarawak presently with no power supply or limited supply are provided with proper electricity by the year 2000.
The Sarawak State Government must regard it as a shame and disgrace that 34 years after joining Malaysia, and two years to the new millennium, Sarawak is still so backward in terms of meeting the basic infrastructure needs of the people.
Malaysia is talking about the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) and taking the quantum leap into the Information Age and Parliament will be passing a Telemedicine Bill next week, which is supposed to provide the latest state-of-the-art medical technology to people in the most remote areas in the country through the latest information and communication technologies. But how can the people of Sarawak in the interior benefit from Telemedicine when they donít even have electricity for their schools or telephones.
Unless special efforts are made to meet the basic infrastructure needs of the people of Sarawak, the people of Sarawak in the interior would become further handicapped in the race towards progress by being the new class of "Information-poor" in the Information Age.
So far, the DAP has been the only voice in Parliament consistently urging the government to give topmost priority to ensure that all schools in Sarawak and Malaysia are provided with electricity by the year 2,000, so that they could get hooked up to the Internet and not be left behind in the First Wave, when the rest of the country is trying to leapfrog from the Second Wave to the Third Wave.
I had made a plea in Parliament during the debate on the Royal Address in March to Members of Parliament from all political parties, whether Barisan Nasional, DAP, PAS, PBS, to take a clear-cut common stand that all schools in the country, whether Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, should be supplied with power by the year 2,000 and to demand that the Education Ministry should give a progress report at every Parliamentary meeting as to the number of schools without power supply which had been provided with electricity and the number of schools with limited power supply which had been given steady and continuous electricity.
I believe that as a result of the repeated pressures which the DAP Members of Parliament are putting on the Education Ministry on this issue, and which would be kept up, there is a good prospect that all the 146 schools in Peninsular Malaysia without power supply or limited supply would be provided with proper electricity by the year 2,000.
However, I am not so optimistic about Sarawak. This is why I am very disappointed that the Barisan Nasional MPs from Sarawak do not seem to be so concerned that it must become a national agenda that all schools in the country should be provided with electricity supply by the year 2000.
If the Sarawak State Government and Sarawak BarisanNasional leaders, MPs and Assemblymen do not take a more serious attitude on this issue, we may have to wait until the year 2020 before all the schools in Sarawak could be provided with proper electricity.
I hope this lack of concern and commitment by Sarawak Barisan Nasional leaders to ensure that all schools in the state would be provided with electricity supply by the year 2,000 could be redressed with the establishment of a Joint Federal-Sarawak Government Commission to provide power to all schools by the year 2000.