Construction taking place on the Pan Borneo Highway near Bintulu. Pic by ERIKA GEORGE

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had promised, in 2013, to transform rural areas in Malaysia. This was to raise the standard of living of the rural communities so that they were on a par with the urban people, he had said then.

In the Barisan Nasional’s manifesto for the 2013 general election, the government announced pledges, including plans to build the Pan-Borneo Highway, West Coast Expressway and rural roads. These would be complemented with supply of clean water, electricity and high-speed broadband. Five years later, the government has met the objectives of building world-class infrastructure and transforming the rural landscape.

Within that period, the Federal Government built 16,114km of tarred roads in rural areas, installed piped water for 131,969 houses and electricity in 60,473 houses.

For the people in Sabah and Sarawak, they will enjoy better road networks through the implementation of the Pan-Borneo Highway, which is due to be completed in three years.

Malaysia Village Headmen Federation deputy president Rosli Kasmin said BN’s proper planning formed the basis for the success of the implementation. He said people in the rural areas no longer had to face problems such as travelling on dirt roads.

“Previously, only several road stretches were tarred, but now almost all villages are connected with tarred roads.

“Also, there is an extra allocation for street lights. Electricity and water supply have now reached almost all villages,” he said.

Rosli said the introduction of the “touch point” programme by BN had also benefited the rural communities through an RM1 million aid for every parliamentary constituency to improve the people’s livelihoods.

“(With this money) we have managed to repair houses, upgrade roads, give special aid for village activities and build better amenities for the youth to play sports.”

Therefore, he said, the BN’s record of developing the infrastructure should not be overlooked.

He said the younger generation should view this as the government’s commitment to provide comfort for the future generation. Rosli pointed out that the youths benefited the most through government investments on targeted groups, including developing many industrial areas near villages to create more jobs.

“With all of these funding and aid to encourage entrepreneurship for small- and medium-sized industries (SMIs), villagers are able to develop their businesses and generate income.”

“In turn, their earnings can be channelled for more development in their areas.” he said.

VOICES


Singer Nguan, 51, Longhouse chief

“We see the Pan-Borneo Highway as a new hope for us to have a better life similar to that in the peninsula.”


Frances Sherri Lia Jilan, 32, Civil servant

“The Pan-Borneo Highway will surely spur business and economy in both states. I am proud of this highway.”


Matius Pangin, 46, Rubber tapper

“Back then, going to Kota Kinabalu once a year was like a special gift. These days, we can go in a friend’s car to many places anytime. Good roads make our lives better.”


Francis Xavier Kinjin, 33, Craftsman

“Internet connection helps me promote my business services on social media. I am grateful that the government keeps upgrading the broadband service in Sabah as it is very useful in our daily lives.”

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