Chong to table motion that state govt proceeds with demand for devolution of powers

KUCHING: Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen will table a motion at this 18th State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting to seek to resolve that the state government proceed with its demand and negotiation with the federal government on the devolution of powers.

According to him, his motion in this first meeting was to set the tone for the next five years.

“Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem had previously appealed for the people to give him a bigger mandate so that he can attempt to fight for more autonomy for Sarawak.

“However, the 13 areas of autonomy he claimed to have successfully fought for the state were only mere administrative powers. As such, this is not the true autonomy that we are talking about,” he told reporters when met after the swearing-in of elected representatives at DUN Complex yesterday.

Chong, who is also state DAP chairman, said there are four areas of autonomy; namely education, taxation, medical and police affairs, which the opposition party wants to push the state government to obtain from the federal government.

“In terms of education, it is not just about 90 per cent of teachers here being Sarawakians because that is mere administrative autonomy. What we want is the right for us to set up English medium schools, have our own syllabus. This is more of a devolution of power,” he explained.

He pointed out that autonomy on taxation such as for 20 per cent of oil royalty remained an issue that still had to be pursued.

“There’s also 50 per cent of taxes collected in Sarawak to be given to (the state) and not in terms of allocation by the federal government to Sarawak.

“This money has to be paid to the state government to decide on the projects to be allocated. This is what we call autonomy on taxation.”

In terms of medical and healthcare servives, Chong said the state government should step in and resolve issues concerning medical, dentistry and pharmaceutical graduates in the state who were not able to start their career in their respective fields due to lack of vacancy in internship at public hospitals in Sarawak.

“As for police affairs, the power to enforce law should be granted to the state government for enforcement rather than taking instructions from Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the Inspector General of Police (IGP),” he added.

Meanwhile, when asked to comment on PBB’s stand not to support the Hudud Bill, Chong said though this was the right decision, it was unfortunate that when the bill was tabled in the Parliament two weeks ago, none of the Sarawak BN members of parliaments (MPs) were present to state their stand.

“What we are against is the implementation of Hudud not only in Sarawak but overall in Malaysia because the implementation of Hudud in any state of the country will be tantamount to a breach of the fundamental structure of Malaysia.

“While we are prepared to work together to oppose the implementation of Hudud, I hope that the BN MPs will be able to stand up to the pressure by their Umno counterparts and not be absent when this Hudud Bill is tabled during Parliament sitting,” he stressed.-Borneo Post

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