‘In Lawas a hospital visit costs RM700′
by: Queville To
Villagers in remote parts of Lawas on the Sabah-Sarawak border claim they have to spend as much as RM700 to visit the nearest hospital in the district.
Their misery doesn’t end there. Many of them have to spend an additional RM100 on transportation to travel to Kota Kinabalu to seek further treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) if their case is a complicated one.
Critical and surgical cases are referred to the main general hospital in Sabah due to the shorter distance compared to travelling to Limbang, via Brunei, or 2,000km to Kuching.
These were among the complaints received by Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian while on his campaign trail in Lawas. Bian is PKR’s candidate in Ba’kelalan.
Dr Roland Chia, a PKR central supreme council member, who accompanied Bian during his campaign said he was surprised to hear of their plight.
Chia said their visit was an eye-opener as the villagers also told of the difficulty they faced earning a living by selling their produce due to the lack of road transport system and infrastructural development in the rural areas.
“They said that to sell their produce, many of them have to travel from Ba’ Kelalan, Long Semadi which is at least a four hour of road ride on some timber trails, to reach the nearest Tamu Besar in Lawas.
“That would easily cost them up to RM100 one-way from their village to the Lawas town.
“Many complained that a lot of their harvest never reached the town because of high transportation costs and they will remain poor due to very poor road infrastructure and lack of basic amenities.
“This is certainly a mockery of the PM’s slogan of “Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan,” Chia said.
Lawas and Limbang divisions are in the far northern corner of Sarawak and only accessable by road either via Brunei or Sabah.
It has a population of approximately 49,000 Orang Ulu Malay, Kedayan, Murut, Tagal, Iban and Chinese.