LANGKAWI: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today announced more than RM1.5 million worth of projects for the development of Pulau Tuba here.
This is on top of the RM46 million submarine electric cable project, which he officially launched today for the only other populated island in the Langkawi chain.
Najib said he had approved a special RM800,000 allocation to repair the 800 or so houses on the island, which has a population of 5,000, comprised mostly of fishermen and their families.
In addition to the government allocation, he also announced that Tenaga Nasional Bhd will be taking on several projects – the construction of a RM690,000 jetty in Tanjung Pandan on the island, the rewiring of 30 houses which are currently in bad shape (RM60,000) and the construction of 38 lampposts for the island.
Najib, however, did not provide the cost of the construction of the lampposts, though he did say they would be utilising LED lights.
But the prime minister did not stop there.
If at the announcement of each project, residents and guests gathered for the official launch on Pulau Tuba had cheered loudly, the biggest cheer was saved for last.
"Next year, we will build you a mini-stadium. I will include this in the 2018 Budget," he said to the loudest applause of the day.
Earlier, Najib said that when he heard of the plight of the fishing community in Pulau Tuba in Oct 2012, he had immediately approved a special allocation for the submarine cable project.
Residents of Pulau Tuba were initially supplied electricity by three generator sets, and frequently experienced blackouts because of the unreliability of electricity supply via such sets.
"This is indeed a special allocation, as the government does not have an allocation for submarine cables. But we had to do something," said Najib.
The prime minister said the government needs to ensure that its policies are fair and inclusive.
"Development should not be just for the cities and urban areas... it should include all. When we develop, we must ensure that every level of society gets to enjoy it.
"That is why the decision (for the submarine cable allocation) had to be made. If the people of Pulau Tuba should be left behind, then I would feel responsible," he said.
Najib promised that the people of Pulau Tuba will continue to enjoy development, as would those of Langkawi and Kedah in general.
He then took a swipe at his detractors, in particular, those who criticised government handouts to the people.
"What is wrong with giving RM300 a month to fishermen? Is the life of a fisherman easy? They are battered by waves in rough seas, drenched by rain, and at times, unable to even go out to sea.
"So when we collect GST, a little of that we give to the fishermen, small farm owners and others like them. This is only fair. This is not dedak... this is not bribery.
"This is a government that knows how to take care of its people. If you don't want to help the people, don't say it is dedak (when we do). If you don't want to help fishermen, don't say it is bribery (when we do)."
In Nov 2012, Najib had announced the submarine cable project in Pulau Tuba when he visited the island.
The project, which is connected to the national grid, was completed in 2015.