KOTA KINABALU July 5, 2011: Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi has expressed disappointment over Datuk Masidi Manjun’s statement over the delayed construction of SMK Nabalu.
Puad said he was bewildered by the latter’s accusation that he was making an empty promise when announcing the government’s decision to build the school.
“I am amazed how a state minister has such a backward attitude and colonial thinking. His accusation that I am an outsider and should not make empty promises is too much,” he told reporters during a visit to Sekolah Kebangsaan Pulau Gaya yesterday.
Puad was commenting on the remarks made last month by Masidi who said among other things that the former had failed to deliver the promise he had made to the community in Ranau two years ago that the school’s project would start within two months of his visit.
Masidi, who is the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment cum State Education Exco, was asked to comment on the matter following the Sabah Kadazandusun Murut Welfare and Education Association’s (Pekadin) call on the Education Ministry to honour its promise to construct the school.
“I am a federal deputy minister. We live in one country – Malaysia. There are Sabahans who are ministers and deputy ministers at the federal level. Are they to be considered outsiders too in Masidi’s eyes?
“More importantly, I was not making an empty promise. Prior to my visit to Nabalu, I had discussed with the Deputy Prime Minister who had approved RM35 million for the school,” Mohd Puad said.
He explained that the delay of the project was due to technical issues that were beyond his power, which was the consultant’s failure to come up with the design that matched the approved allocation.
According to Puad, the initial design submitted by the consultants in 2009 would have required RM75.2 million to build the school and was rejected as it was way higher than the allocation available.
Then in February last year, another design was submitted but again it was way above the RM35 million limit, before a suitable design was finally agreed upon at the end of that year.
“When Datuk Masidi made the statement on June 24, the ministry has already awarded the project to a contractor on May 24.
“So, there is no issue about me lying. And how can he say I am an outsider. This should not have happened, especially when we are promoting the 1Malaysia concept,” he added.
As a senior minister, he said, Masidi should be aware of the financial procedures involved in awarding a project and therefore should not have made such a wild accusation against fellow Barisan Nasional members.
He stressed that the ministry was very committed in its efforts to develop the State’s education sector, especially in reducing the gap between the urban and rural areas.
Asked about the latest development on the school’s project, he said construction was expected to commence next month and would take about two years before it will be fully completed.
Mohd Puad urged the contractor involved to ensure the project can be completed speedily and according to specification, given that it has been long delayed and the community in the area has long waited for the facility to be built.
Meanwhile, he said the dilapidating conditions of schools at Pulau Gaya would be fully repaired and upgraded. The Ministry, according to Mohd Puad, was already in the process to determining the scope of works involved.
He said, all the damaged structures of both SK and SMK Pulau Gaya would be either repaired or rebuilt, depending on the outcome of the evaluation exercise currently being finalized.
“The initial cost was RM10 million but with the jetty having collapsed, the cost would be higher now. We have yet to determine the actual cost, pending the report on the scope of works from the contractor,” he said.