Friday, 26 January 2001 12:38 PM






emel kami



Luxury projects land Kedah with RM1 billion debt
Susan Loone

11:13am, Tue: The Kedah state government is believed to be more than a billion ringgit in debt due to its overspending on luxury projects, an opposition leader said today.

Barisan Alternatif state assemblyman for Lunas Saifuddin Nasution Ismail told malaysiakini that the projects, costing more than RM1.2 billion were carried forward from former Menteri Besar Sanusi Junid's tenure.

He added that the present Menteri Besar Syed Razak Syed Zain not only endorsed the projects but ensured they continued.

"The figure is staggering. This is more than the state government can afford," said Saifuddin, who has been in office for two months.

"Besides, these projects are not beneficial to the people of Kedah," he added.

Saifuddin claimed that he had secured the information on the amount of the debt from the latest Auditor-General's report. He had access to it when he attended the last day of the Kedah state assembly sitting last December.

He reported that the state assembly had refused to debate the budget for these projects whenever a resolution concerning it was called by the opposition.

"When we put forward a resolution to debate the matter, the speaker rejects it outright," said Saifuddin.

Pressing issues

According to Saifuddin, the luxury projects are:

- The construction of 1,000 steps leading to Gunung Jerai,

- a butchery centre in Kampung Paya Pahlawan, Kubang Pasu. Cows are to be slaughtered here for the Hari Raya Haji Korban ( religious sacrifice),

- a safari park in Sik,

- an airfield in Tasik Pedu and

- a book village in Lubuk Sembilang, Langkawi.

"I am disappointed when I heard about these (projects) which are more of an ego-boosting exercise than to serve the needs of the people," Saifuddin said.

He added that the two most pressing issues in Kedah were the livelihood of padi farmers and the problem of high water rates for households due to the privatisation of the Water Supply Department.

He also said that it would be better to aid senior citizens, single mothers and abandoned wives and children than to waste funds on luxury and unnecessary projects.