Chong cries foul over having speech time cut by two-thirds

Chong points at a document with information on the state budget during a press conference.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Nov 7: Kota Sentosa assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen claimed to be the first member in the history of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) whose debate time on the 2020 State Budget was cut short for causing ruckus in the august House this morning.

Chong was only eight minutes into his debate, out of 20 minutes allocated, when DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar made a ruling under Standing Order 32(1) to disallow Chong from continuing his debate speech.

This caused Chong to hit back saying that the treatment was “politics of bully at the highest level at DUN”.

“This is the highest legislative body in the state, so this is a manifestation of politics of bully (sic).

“I am sad that the Speaker has reduced himself to the tool of politics of bully (because) as a Speaker you should be impartial.

“When someone holds the floor to debate, the others should keep quiet but they (backbenchers) shouted on matters which are irrelevant to what I was saying,” he told a press conference at the DUN Complex’s media centre after being stopped from continuing his debate speech.

Chong alleged this ‘politics of bully at the highest level’ has been practiced for years and goes all the way down to the village level where folks were held ransom without being provided with “stones, water and electricity” if they did not support or vote for the government.

“This politics of bully should stop and now PH (Pakatan Harapan) has taken over the federal government and the MPKKP (Federal Village Community Management Council) system will be implemented, such politics of bully will end and the effects will be neutralised in time to come,” he added.

Photo of in-house DUN broadcast showing Mohd Asfia (top) making a ruling to stop Chong (lower right) from continuing his debate speech.

During the debate, Chong had said that the 2020 State Budget has transcend from ‘David Copperfield’ budget in 2019 to a ‘hot air’ budget with an exaggerated amount when there was no actual funds provided for all the strategic initiatives promised in the House.

According to Chong, the total development budget for 2020 stated by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in fact added up to more than RM17 billion and with other expenditures would add up to RM20 billion.

“But the actual amount that is tabled for approval by the House is only RM6.5 billion. So we want the state government and the Chief Minister to come clean on this,” he urged.

“And if the state government is to use the alternative financing model to finance the state projects through DBOS (Development Bank of Sarawak), that will be disastrous as this model is a practice of ‘off balance sheet’ accounting (not reflected in the balance sheet),” he said, adding that it was similar to the mechanisms employed in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal.

He warned the state government not to emulate ‘your bossku’ (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) by committing the government to debt beyond its ability as the state government will exhaust its RM30 billion reserve and cause the state to go bankrupt with that way of spending. — DayakDaily