MIRI: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is confident that the construction cost for schools and related infrastructure in Sarawak and Sabah can be reduced beginning next year with the activation of the National Key Result Area (NKRA) programme.

He said the federal government's plan was to continue to repair or construct new schools with better infrastructure, including water and electricity supply.

"In Sarawak and Sabah, construction cost for such projects is almost two or three times more... if the cost is RM20 million in the peninsula, it is almost RM50 million here," Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, told reporters after attending a luncheon hosted by the Miri Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, here on Jan 21.

Muhyiddin attended a briefing by the Sarawak Education Department Director, Datuk Dr Julaihi Bujang.

Earlier, Muhyiddin was scheduled to visit SMK Tutoh Api in Long Panai, Baram to observe the dilapidated condition of the school, which is often affected by the flood, but was curtailed by bad weather.

"I apologise to the people there. I'm told that it is not safe to fly [by helicopter] because of the bad weather, so I ask the school administration to come here [Miri]," he said.

He also announced an allocation of RM50 million to rebuild the school on a site beside SMK Tutoh Apo.

The project is expected to start in August this year and would be ready in 2012.

Muhyiddin also gave an assurance that the federal government would continue to support Chinese medium schools in terms of financial assistance if certain conditions were met by the parties concerned. -- Bernama