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Friday, August 5, 2011

Rosmah's spending shocks women groups: Saddened by unkept promises

Sulaiman Kamal | 9:35 PM | | | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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Sarawak PKR Women's wing is demanding answers on why money is being "extravagantly" spent by the Prime Minister’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, when issues like the Penan rape cases and the rural children’s education were still nowhere near being solved.
The PKR women are still reeling from news reports about Rosmah's alleged purchase of a RM24.4 million diamond ring and another RM24 million that was spent on hosting a three-day “First Ladies Summit” in Malaysia with the theme, ‘A child today, a leader tomorrow’. The summit drew a total of 15 First Ladies, mostly from Africa.

Apart from this RM48 million that looks to have been "wasted", PKR national women's vice chairman Voon Shiak Ni said in a press conference that they were curious to know how the RM111 million allocated to her Permata project for early childhood development was being spent. The public has a right to know too, Voon added. The allocation had been approved under the 2010 Budget.
50 pre-schools for 20 years
The Permata Negara early childhood care and education programme is a project by Rosmah aimed to realize the concept of 1Malaysia amongst children in the country. Rosmah, who is supposed to head the programme, want children of the different races and religion to study and learn together. Voon pointed out that the concept is good but she has yet heard of it being implemented or where the money has gone to.
Last year, Fatimah Abdullah, a Minister in the Sarawak Chief Minister's department disclosed that 298 primary schools in the state are without pre-school classes due to lack of budget.
Based on an estimate calculated by an NGO, the running of a pre-school in the rural areas, the diamond ring alone would be able to construct 50 pre-schools and maintain it for 20 years, said Voon. As for the RM24 million spent on entertaining the First Ladies, it could have been used for another 50 pre-schools for another 20 years.
“Fifty pre-schools for 20 years. Imagine the assets Malaysia will stand to gain with getting young rural children to be interested in education and who would get a chance to be our future leaders,” said Voon.
After 2 years, the Penans are still waiting
The Penan children are also one of the groups lacking pre-school and even primary or secondary education. In the remote areas in Ulu Baram, Penan children who need to rely on timber camp transport are exposed to rape. Studies by NGOs have shown this to be a rampant problem but both PM Najib and CM Taib have chosen to close an eye.
In September 2009, a National Task Force set up by the federal Ministry of Women affairs confirmed the sexual attacks against the Penan girls. Three years have passed and yet, not a single suspect has been brought to book despite pressures from NGOs and the political opposition.
Two years ago, PKR Women's wing had personally handed over a memorandum on the Penan rape allegations to Rosmah when she was having dinner at Merdeka Palace in Kuching. Rosmah had assured the PKR women that she would personally look into it, but till today, nothing has been done nor any answer given to the Women’s wing.
“We are still waiting for Rosmah’s next step of action on the Penan rapes and the detailed spending of the Permata RM111 million,” said Voon.
Luxury is in the eye of the beholder
It is said Malaysia still has the funds to spend on educational development, and year after year, Parliament has passed numerous legislation associated with it, all in the name of the need to nurture the young for a better future. These funds should be channelled to the rural areas, particularly in poorest states like Sarawak, where almost all the schools are in dilapidated situation.
Not surprisngly then that most Sarawakians were not very amused to read about Rosmah's splurging. When life is so grim that even an extra coin literally matters, it is no fun to hear of people throwing precious money on items of adornment that cannot ease the discomfort of hunger or satiate the thirst for knowledge.
Those who are poor see luxury as being three decent meals a day, and really, they would not think to gripe about their lot if not for the fact that they feel shafted of their fair share of the land's bounty.


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