by Karen Bong
KUCHING, March 1: The mandate from the Chinese community in supporting the state government again will be crucial to safeguard the rights of Sarawak.
Highlighting this, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg urged the Chinese community to continue working together with the state government for a better Sarawak.
“Last year, our country’s political scenario underwent unprecedented changes and Sarawak was caught in a delicate situation with many important issues remaining outstanding,” he said in a speech text read out by Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian at the Federation of Kuching Division Community Associations 2019 Chinese New Year Gathering at a restaurant here last night.
“What I asked of our fellow Sarawakians is for all of us to be resilient and to not be easily swayed or enticed to let others from outside control us,” he urged.
Once Sarawak loses control of the state, Abang Johari feared it would take blood and sweat to get the control back.
“We can never tell what others will do to us once they can control us. We have learnt our lessons when we were in BN (Barisan Nasional) in which decisions were made based on consensus even if it had to go against Sarawak’s interest,” he added.
In Sarawak, he pointed out that the state government will always try to do things without unnecessarily causing any tension among the people.
“We are not in the habit of bringing others down in the course of our duty towards the rakyat and we strive to respect our fellow Sarawakians and their views,” he said.
“We prefer to do things quietly for the benefit of the people and our strength lies in our service towards the people within the limit of our resources and without politicising everything,” he added.
Abang Johari reiterated the Sarawak government under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is now on an independent platform without having to refer to Putrajaya all the time in decision-making for the sake of Sarawak.
“The change of federal government is a blessing in disguise for us because we can now assert our rights according to the Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63). I do not think we can impose the five per cent sales tax on petroleum products for export if we are still under the federal government,” he said.
“Sarawak is able to earn more than RM3 billion from the five per cent sales tax which would be returned to the people through development and projects for the state,” he added.
He commended the federation, which comprises 24 member associations representing various communities, as important non-governmental associations (NGOs) that have contributed to unity and inter-racial cooperation to strengthen Kuching’s status as a City of Unity.
“I appreciate the fact that the organisations have been acting as a bridge to channel feedback from the people to the government and information from the government to the people,” he said.
“We need continuous flow of information both ways in our common effort to solve issues affecting the people and this kind of cooperation between the government and the people can go a long way in saving our funds and resources which can be channeled to other more pressing areas,” he added.
The state government, he said, appreciated the hard work that the federation has put in to create a better Kuching for all the people.
“We are willing to help the member associations with some funds and the government has been giving the funds for the past few years because we know you mean well for our beautiful and harmonious Kuching,” he assured.
Abang Johari expressed confidence that the members will make full use of the state funds for the benefit of the various communities which reflect the harmony and unity among the people of different races and religions.
“This special spirit of unity can only be found in Sarawak and Kuching in particular. We are certainly proud of it and we must protect and promote this spirit,” he urged.
Federation chairman Penghulu Tan Heng Kee, organising chairman Theng Chew Tong, Padawan Municipal Council (PMC) chairman, who is also Batu Kitang assemblyman, Lo Khere Chiang, Temenggong Tan Joo Phoi, political secretary to Chief Minister Tan Kai as well as Chinese community leaders and associations representatives were among those present. — DayakDaily