Bar new Unimas chairman from entering Sarawak, says Soo

Lina Soo

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KUCHING, Jan 4: State Reform Party Sarawak (STAR) proposed that the Sarawak government invoke its immigration autonomous power to bar newly appointed Unimas chairman from entering the state until the federal government justified its decision.

Its president Lina Soo asked why Sarawakians had to make way for a Peninsular Malaysian to be chairman of the board of directors chairman for a university in Sarawak when the last three predecessors were Sarawakians.

“This is to remind the federal government that the Sarawak government still exists. This is yet another blatant attempt at Malayanising Sarawak, in breach of the Borneonisation assurance that was fundamental to the formation of Malaysia in 1963,” she said in a press statement today.

Sarawak government yesterday (Jan 3) expressed it was displeased about not being consulted and informed of the appointment of Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) chairman Tan Sri Datuk Dr Kamal Salih as the fourth chairman of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

“What is even more amazing is that the immediate past chairman Tan Sri Sulong Matjeraie had his three-year tenure terminated halfway through to fit in with Kamal’s new appointment,” she claimed.

So far Unimas has been helmed by Sarawakians so far with the first chairman being Tan Sri Datuk Amar Bujang Mohd Nor, followed by Datuk Dr Hatta Solhi and lastly Sulong.

While Soo had high esteem for Kamal’s academic qualifications and experience, she believed that there were capable and academically qualified Sarawakians competent enough to hold the position, even if Sulong were to complete the three-year service as scheduled.

“There are so many universities in Peninsular Malaysia, why must he (Kamal) come here when Sarawak itself also has its own academic talents?,” she further questioned.

Noting that the Sarawak government was not even consulted or notified over the replacement, Soo pressed that Sarawak must be firm in protecting Sarawak’s rights within the legitimacy of the Inter-Governmental Report and Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“Kamal’s appointment to Sarawak goes against the very grain of Borneonisation which was promised to Sarawak 57 years ago,” she added.

Meanwhile, Sulong, a former Federal Court judge, had his three-year term cut short on Dec 20, 2019. It was set to expire on April 30, 2021. He was appointed for a three-year term on May 1, 2018.

Kamal, who is set to serve from Jan 1, 2020 until Dec 31, 2022, is the first non-Sarawakian to be appointed as Unimas chairman.

He was a professor, dean and deputy vice-chancellor at the Universiti Sains Malaysia between 1973 and 1985.

The former Wangsa Maju MP (from 1996 to 1999) has also held various positions in government agencies. —DayakDaily