East Malaysia’s political road: Through the jungle

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Pan-Borneo-Highway-SarawakTraditionally a hotbed of supportive voters, Sarawak’s constituencies under Barisian Nasional (BN), Malaysia’s incumbent political force, may be warmed up to hear that plans to press forward with a monumental inter-regional highway have been placed high atop the election-promise/wish list.

By Justin Calderon

One of the larger pledges made in BN’s election campaign manifesto is the widening of the incomplete Pan-Borneo Highway, a road network that stretches 2,300 kilometers from Sematan, Sarawak to Serudung, Sabah. As of 2002, about 95.2 per cent of the highway had been completed, but the inter-regional highway still remains majority a single-way trunk road.

Enter the election year. In expected fanfare, BN has now committed to turning 1,000 kilometers of this incomplete zipper across the northern belt of Borneo into a dual-carriage roadway – and all within the frame of the political party’s expected winning term.

That the federal race with opposition party Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is “historically close” makes not a difference for Sarawak, as the state-held elections in 2011 have cemented political stability.

However, netizens have expressed that the project could face issues as even the current coastal roads connecting Miri and Bintulu face issues due to improper maintenance. Constructed in conjunction with Brunei, the road is also derided as a political gesture on many fronts.

Yet the campaign dream goes on:  “We are very realistic [about completing the project in five years’ time].The main issue now is we are giving priority to this project,”  Sarawak Second Minister of Planning and Environment, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, told Bernama on April 8.

Indeed, some of the roadways have already been upgraded, with the 217 kilometer stretch between Sibu and Bintulu and the 207 kilometer stretch from Bintulu to Miri being given priority last year; a RM100 million kicker even being made available to boost them.

“This is because these stretches are being used daily by many commercial and heavy vehicles rushing to Bintulu and other ports in the state’s central region,” Works Minister Datuk Seri Shaziman Mansor told The Star in 2012.

The real kicker comes only now: “Some might question why the government had chosen to do only upgrading work and not turn the road into a dual-carriage way but such a decision was made because the current traffic volume at about 10,000 vehicles daily does not warrant such a need,” Mansor said.

Has this portion of Sarawak gotten more traffic in the past year? A show of hands at the ballot box could answer this.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Traditionally a hotbed of supportive voters, Sarawak’s constituencies under Barisian Nasional (BN), Malaysia’s incumbent political force, may be warmed up to hear that plans to press forward with a monumental inter-regional highway have been placed high atop the election-promise/wish list.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Pan-Borneo-Highway-SarawakTraditionally a hotbed of supportive voters, Sarawak’s constituencies under Barisian Nasional (BN), Malaysia’s incumbent political force, may be warmed up to hear that plans to press forward with a monumental inter-regional highway have been placed high atop the election-promise/wish list.

By Justin Calderon

One of the larger pledges made in BN’s election campaign manifesto is the widening of the incomplete Pan-Borneo Highway, a road network that stretches 2,300 kilometers from Sematan, Sarawak to Serudung, Sabah. As of 2002, about 95.2 per cent of the highway had been completed, but the inter-regional highway still remains majority a single-way trunk road.

Enter the election year. In expected fanfare, BN has now committed to turning 1,000 kilometers of this incomplete zipper across the northern belt of Borneo into a dual-carriage roadway – and all within the frame of the political party’s expected winning term.

That the federal race with opposition party Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is “historically close” makes not a difference for Sarawak, as the state-held elections in 2011 have cemented political stability.

However, netizens have expressed that the project could face issues as even the current coastal roads connecting Miri and Bintulu face issues due to improper maintenance. Constructed in conjunction with Brunei, the road is also derided as a political gesture on many fronts.

Yet the campaign dream goes on:  “We are very realistic [about completing the project in five years’ time].The main issue now is we are giving priority to this project,”  Sarawak Second Minister of Planning and Environment, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, told Bernama on April 8.

Indeed, some of the roadways have already been upgraded, with the 217 kilometer stretch between Sibu and Bintulu and the 207 kilometer stretch from Bintulu to Miri being given priority last year; a RM100 million kicker even being made available to boost them.

“This is because these stretches are being used daily by many commercial and heavy vehicles rushing to Bintulu and other ports in the state’s central region,” Works Minister Datuk Seri Shaziman Mansor told The Star in 2012.

The real kicker comes only now: “Some might question why the government had chosen to do only upgrading work and not turn the road into a dual-carriage way but such a decision was made because the current traffic volume at about 10,000 vehicles daily does not warrant such a need,” Mansor said.

Has this portion of Sarawak gotten more traffic in the past year? A show of hands at the ballot box could answer this.

 

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