Chong: Sarawak govt missed chance to full autonomy in education, healthcare

Chong fielding questions from reporters.

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By Malcolm Lau

KUCHING: Sarawak government could have authority and financial autonomy over education and healthcare in Sarawak if the offer by Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak pre-14th General Election has been accepted.

Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Chong Chieng Jen reiterated that unfortunately, the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government had turned down the offer.

The terms and conditions of the offer, he explained, was that the 20 per cent oil and gas royalties and 50 per cent tax revenue collected from Sarawak, to be returned to Sarawak, must be used to finance the running of education and healthcare in the state.

“It was a good offer but it was turned down by the Chief Minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg),” he told reporters after officiating Consumers Roadshow and Semeba Festival 2019 at Kampung Semaba multipurpose hall here on Friday night (Dec 13).

“By having the 20 per cent oil royalty and 50 per cent tax collected (from Sarawak) returned to Sarawak, the state government will have the financing ability to take care of the two sectors,” he added.

Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, pointed out based on the record, the annual expenditures on education and health amounted to about RM7 billion.

“The amount from 20 per cent oil royalty and 50 per cent tax revenue is about RM7-RM8 billion and is almost similar amount allocated to the state for the two sectors by the federal government,” he said.

He added that now it was up to discussion and negotiation between Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Abang Johari.— DayakDaily