KUCHING, July 31: Now that the State Elections have been put on hold until next year, DAP Sarawak has called on the State government to convene the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting immediately to introduce and pass a large supplementary budget to help the people and business sector in the State.
Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen, in welcoming and supporting the imposition of the localised Emergency Order (EO) for Sarawak that has suspended the State Elections during pandemic, has urged the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government to fully utilise the next six months to improve healthcare facilities, revive the economy and restore the livelihood of the people in Sarawak.
“In order to help the people and the economy, the State government must immediately convene the Sarawak DUN and present a supplementary budget for the State to be spent within the next few months of this year to help the people and the business sector.
“The government must also plan for a huge deficit budget for the year 2022 in order to stimulate the State’s economy,” he said in a statement today.
Chong, who is also Kota Sentosa assemblyman, pointed out that the 2021 State’s surplus budget was a mistake right from the start and that businesses in Sarawak would not have to suffer as they were currently had the State government took his advice in Sarawak DUN last year to introduce a deficit budget instead of the surplus budget for 2021.
“(Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi) Abang Johari (Tun Openg) and his team of advisors must take heed of the fact that in times of recession and economic difficulties, it is the duty of the government to introduce deficit budget and to spend so that the private sector can survive, even if it means that the government has to take up loans for that purpose,” he added.
With the State Elections held off due to the EO, Chong emphasised that it gives the government the time to focus on policies and measures to tackle the pandemic and help the people.
Therefore, he said that it is incumbent upon the government to fully utilise the next six months to:
1. Complete the vaccination exercise for the whole of Sarawak, including those below 18 years of age and foreign workers;
2. Improve the healthcare services and the facilities to cater for the outbreak and the need for extensive medical care of the Covid-19 patients;
3. Revive the economy and the business sectors; and
4. Restore the livelihood and standard of living of the people to the pre-pandemic time.
While acknowledging that the GPS government has done a fairly good job on vaccination, Chong pointed out there are still lacking and way below par on the other matters.
“There is no substantial and sufficient increase in the healthcare facilities to cater to ever-increasing demand for such services caused by the outbreak.
“There is also practically no help at all by the State government for the private business sector and the livelihood and standard of living of the people have deteriorated despite the huge reserve fund of the State government,” he claimed.
On the extension of Emergency for Sarawak, the Stampin MP stressed that it was in fact the call ventilated by him in Parliament during the debate on Monday.
“The national Emergency expires on Aug 1 and upon expiration, the Sarawak DUN will be deemed automatically dissolved and under the Sarawak Constitution, elections must be held within 60 days from the date of dissolution which is by Oct 1, 2021.
“Therefore, unless localised EO was imposed on Sarawak, otherwise, we will be compelled to hold the State elections before Oct 1, 2021.
“Given the current pandemic situation in the State, it is definitely suicidal to hold the State Elections. As such, my suggestion in Parliament is to have the localised EO on Sarawak,” he said.
Chong noted that his stand was also immediately supported by the GPS Secretary-General Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi though some of the GPS ministers had other views, stressing that the GPS is ready for elections anytime.
“Finally, I am glad that sense and sensibility prevails and the King made the proclamation for the imposition of the localised EO on Sarawak to hold back the State Elections,” he added.— DayakDaily