Sarawak Government Urged to be Truthful on ASF status

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Media Statement By YB Chong Chieng Jen:

The State Government should be truthful and open to the Sarawak public on the status of the African Swine Fever (ASF) disease control measures in Sarawak and at the same time provide aids to the pig farmers who are badly affected by the disease.

Despite repeated claims by the Sarawak government that the ASF disease was under control, it seems that the disease is actually out of control.

The following is the chronological sequence of the spread of the ASF disease in Sarawak:

  1. In July 2021, the ASF disease was first discovered in the Limbang, Kapit and Miri division. The State Government claimed that it is under control and that the disease will be contained in the affected area only.
  2. In January, 2022, the ASF disease was found in Sibu. Again, the State Government claimed that it is under control.
  3. In April, 2022, Serian and Sri Aman divisions were officially declared as ASF disease control
    areas.
  4. In May, 2022, the State Minister for Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Datuk Seri Dr Rundi announced that the spread of the ASF was under control in Sarawak and that Kuching, Serian and Samarahan were still free of the ASF disease.
  5. In August, 2022, the ASF disease was reported to have been found in Serian pig farms.

From this sequent of events, it is obvious that the ASF disease has infected almost all areas in Sarawak, contrary to the claims by the Sarawak government that it is all under control.

In light of the far-reaching effects and impacts of the ASF, the State Government must take immediate action on the following:

  1. Give reasonable compensation to the pig farmers for the number of pigs died or culled as a result of the ASF disease and also to those whose livelihood severely affected by the spread of the disease. As of May, 2022, the State Government announced that officially more than 15,000 pigs have been culled. It is thus a huge economic loss to the pig farmers.
  2. Engage all the stakeholders, including the pig farmers, feed suppliers and the pork vendors to formulate plans to resolve the problem.
  3. Conduct an independent investigation and enquiry into the spread of the ASF disease, to find out the extent of and true cause for the spread and the reason why despite all the “control orders”, the ASF still spread from north to south of Sarawak and thereafter to make public the report on the investigation and enquiry.
  4. To be forthcoming, truthful and open to the people on the effects the ASF virus on human and create awareness amongst the people based on true science and medical data, and to reassure the public that it is safe to consume pork in the markets.

It is to be noted that the State Government only officially announced that the ASF disease had spread to Serian in August after some WhatsApp messages went viral in social media. Didn’t the State Government know that the ASF disease had spread to Serian days before the WhatsApp message went viral? Why was the Government not forthcoming with this fact?

If the Government kept trying to suppress information, it will only fuel public anxiety and suspicion. The key to instill public confidence in government institutions is transparency and accountability. Therefore, I urge the State Government to quickly implement the 4 above suggestions.