Baru urges Sarawak to drop circular limiting freedom of community leaders

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Oct 20: Works Minister Baru Bian has urged the Sarawak government to reconsider the circular issued to community leaders recently.

The internal circular, which went viral in the social media, was signed by the State Secretary. It prohibits community leaders from participating in or attending programmes organised by bodies or organisations not sanctioned by the state government.

Baru opined that the directive had put unnecessary hindrances on the community leaders, where there are many organisations and bodies coming to rural villages to carry out development programmes.

“So, you cannot just stop them (community leaders) because there would be a lot of people (organisations and bodies) going to the villages and probably need to discuss with them (community leaders) on many issues.

“They may want to develop, carry out corporate social responsibilities for the village, or probably just want to help the children and schools. There are a lot of activities that they can bring in.

“So, if you have to put this kind of a requirement, I think that would make it so difficult for the community leaders to act for the people,” he told reporters during a working visit to the Construction Industry Development Board Malaysia (CIDB) Kuching Complex near here today.

Baru also reminded the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led state government to ensure that all community leaders were appointed based on them being elected by their respective communities.

This was because the federal government would only pay 70 per cent of the allowances to the properly appointed community leaders starting next year, while the remaining 30 per cent by the state government.

Baru said it was known that these appointments had often been politicised, where only supporters of the ruling government would be appointed.

“We, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government, still assists the state in paying 70 per cent of the allowances to the community leaders, but with the condition that those community leaders must be appointed through election from the communities based on their respective customs.

“We (federal government) have advised the state government that we would only support this kind of community leaders and also advised them to appoint someone elected by the people of the community,” said Baru.

He also revealed that the federal government had approved some RM35 million to pay for the allowance of Sarawak community leaders next year. — DayakDaily