Two days ago, on 27 April, DAP unveiled its 10-point manifesto themed, 'Dare to Change, Sharing of Wealth for the People', for the 11th Sarawak state election on 7 May
DAP is promising voters in Sarawak a fairer distribution of wealth and improved security, transparency in administration through its 10-point manifesto.
Among the promises made include a bus service project that would see a three-fold increase in the number of buses, and providing free bus services in major towns such as Kuching, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu.
“We are being very specific and looking at all issues concerning everyone from the state,” Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen was quoted as saying by Malay Mail Online.
Following the announcement, the Sarawak Chief Minister (CM) Adenan Satem, who is fondly known as Tok Nan, has challenged the Selangor and Penang state governments to implement the free bus services in their states first
He was responding to the Sarawak DAP manifesto where its chairman, Chong Chieng Jen, pledged to offer free public bus services in all major cities, including Kuching, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu.
“I want to see Selangor and Penang (state governments) do this. They’ve been in power for many years but they never talk about this."
“The danger in the manifesto is that you can promise the sky. This will mislead the people.”
However, DAP leaders are "most disappointed" that Adenan seems to be ignorant of the fact that both Selangor and Penang have already been providing free bus services to the public for the past few years
Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari pointed out that DAP-led Penang and PKR-led Selangor governments had already spearheaded free bus services in the states.
"In Penang, free bus services began as early as 2009, when the state government launched the Central Area Transit (CAT) bus loop in George Town," Zairil explained, adding that the Bridge Express Shuttle Transit (BEST) FIZ was introduced in 2011, while the BEST Komtar service started operations in 2012.
"As for Selangor, the first free bus service was implemented in 2014 with the PJ Free Bus in Petaling Jaya, which has since been expanded with additional routes."
He added that the Selangor Smart Bus (initially called Bas Selangorku) was also launched in 2015, following the success of PJ Free Bus.
"It is most disappointing that Adenan is completely unaware of the public service improvements being undertaken in other states, especially in Penang and Selangor where DAP is a coalition partner in government," Zairil said.
The DAP Assistant National Publicity Secretary also refuted claims by the Sarawak CM that the state government still failed to provide free bus services to Penangites except in the city area
"In 2011, the Penang state government even offered to pay RapidPenang for free bus services throughout the whole state during peak hours on weekdays, but unfortunately, the offer was turned down by Prasarana, the government-linked company that operates the bus services in Penang," Zairil said.
Zairil also rebutted Adenan’s claim that the DAP had failed to take over the private bus companies in Penang despite having been in power for two terms, pointing out that the state government did consider starting its own bus company but was hindered by licensing issues.
Zairil also said that it was untrue that Penang merely provides free bus services in the city, noting that the state government subsidises two other bus services that commute from Seberang Perai to the island everyday, shuttling people who live on the mainland to the Bayan Lepas free industrial zone as well as the state administrative centre, Komtar.