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RM22,500 to chop down one tree in Kuching

By Joseph Tawie

KUCHING: Did you know that it costs RM22,500 to chop down a tree in Kuching, Sarawak? That was the shocking disclosure by DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen who said it was ridiculous for the Kuching South City Council to pay tycoon Ting Phek King's company RM22,500 to chop down a tree. 

Ting's company had apparently demanded from the council a payment of RM7.5 million to cut down about 300 trees along the one-kilometre stretch of Tun Jugah road.

Although Ting came under heavy criticism for cutting down the trees, the Mayor of Kuching James Chan in a recent statement defended Ting’s claim saying that the trees needed to be cut down as they posed a danger to road users.

“I would like to ask Chan if the council is going to pay Ting RM22,500 per tree or RM7.5 million. Otherwise, why should he defend Ting?....This (quantum) is ridiculous” said Chong who is the Bandar Kuching MP.

Chong also rubbished claims by Chan that the council lacked funds because Kuching city is under the control of DAP.

“It's rubbish coming from the mayor, and I can cite examples which clearly prove that Kuching has got a substantial allocation of funds as compared to other councils.

“At Bintawa, a bridge which connects to the Borneo Convention Centre, Kuching, worth more RM100 million is to be built soon and a flyover near the Penview Hotel is also to be built. It is worth more than RM100 million.

“Even the ongoing construction of a central sewerage management system in Kuching is worth more than RM500 million.

“It is obvious that Kuching sees rapid development with more funds than any other city or town in Sarawak,” said Chong.

He added that last year millions of ringgit was spent on re-tarring several of the roads in Kuching when the city played hosts to the Rulers conference.

“All these are parts and parcels of Kuching development. And the whole lot of these projects have been awarded to companies that are politically connected,” he said.

Urging Chan to do his job as a mayor and not as a politician, Chong said: “I told him he has to review Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd's waste collection contract.

"Since the privatisation of waste collection, the council has increased its spending from RM5 million to RM10 million a year.

“The council has the right to review the terms of the contract with Trienekens after five years so that expenses could be reduced,” said Chong.

He said he also told Chan to cancel the privatisation of the parking system and let the council handle it as a profitable operation.

“But he does not dare to do it.  Because he lacks the courage as both the Trienekens and the parking system have the backing of certain politicians and he puts the blame on DAP,” he said.

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