DAP ready to help community leaders seek judicial review on ‘constitutional’ directive

Chong showing reporters a printout of the memo issued by the State Secretary to community leaders.

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Oct 21: State Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen deemed a recent memo to community leaders in the state as “unreasonable” and “unconstitutional”, because it prohibits them from participating in and attending programmes and activities organised by organisations or bodies not sanctioned by the state government.

Chong said the memo, which was signed by the State Secretary, had violated freedom of association and freedom of movement that are guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

Hence, he called upon “willing” community leaders to see the DAP to enable the party’s team of lawyers to seek judicial review on the issuance of this internal circular, which went viral in the social media recently.

“If they (community leaders) are willing to come forward, we will seek judicial review of this matter. Not consider. We will go ahead. If any ‘Ketua Kaum or ‘Ketua Masyarakat’ is willing to take up action against the state government for such an unreasonable, unconstitutional, irrational or even insulting, childish order, we, DAP, will provide the legal service free of charge.

“This is their (community leaders) basic rights. Don’t treat them like dirt or school kids,” he told a press conference at party headquarters, here, today.

Chong, who is also Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, speculated that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government was probably “desperate” when it issued the directive, thinking they might lose in the next state election, due in 2021.

“This shows the state government’s under-siege mentality, fearing loss of power in the coming state election. This explains the unconstitutional and unreasonable decision and direction by the state government.

“Whatever it is, they should not treat community leaders in such a manner,” he emphasized.

Chong cautioned Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg that when the state government acts unreasonably and irrationally, such orders would not be followed or complied with by the majority of the people, and that is where tyranny would ultimately fall.

“Such a directive is a clear insult to the community leaders although they receive some allowances from the state government. Nevertheless, these community leaders aren’t government servants nor school children to be directed and ordered in such a disrespectful manner.

“I call on the state government to show some respect to these ‘Ketua Masyarakat’ and ‘Ketua Kaum’. Their appointment and position are to help the government by serving as a bridge between the ‘rakyat’ and government agencies,” opined Chong. — DayakDaily