Dewan Sarawak Speaker: No provision in Constitution, Standing Orders for Opposition leader benefits

Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting. File photo.

By Karen Bong and Marlynda Meraw

KUCHING, May 4: There is no provision in the Sarawak Constitution or the Standing Orders on the remuneration and benefits of the Opposition leader, clarified Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) Speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.

He highligted this in responding to a question whether Padungan assemblyman Chong Chieng Jen of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak will be appointed the Opposition leader in the house as Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Assan) is no longer the Opposition leader after Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) was dissolved with all its members joining Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), a component of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), en bloc.


In a statement on May 2, Chong also suggested that the Sarawak government emulate the reforms of Federal Parliament by appointing an Opposition legislator as the chairman of the Sarawak Dewan Undangan’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman.

“There is no provision in the Sarawak Constitution and Standing Orders whereby the Opposition leader is to be paid and given benefits.

“Unless, the Opposition wants to table a motion to amend the Sarawak Constitution and Standing Orders which requires a two-thirds majority,” he told a press conference after the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) pre-council meeting in conjunction with the upcoming DUN Sitting at the party headquarters in Jalan Bako today.

Regarding whether Sarawak should adopt the practices of the parliament and state legislature as cited, Asfia said he would leave the matter entirely to the wisdom of the honourable members whether these institutions are exemplary enough to be emulated.

As for seating arrangements in the Dewan Sarawak or Sarawak Legislative Assembly, Asfia assured that there are designated seats for the Opposition.

“There are a total of 108 seats available, with 82 currently occupied. Hence, there are sufficient seats, with the Opposition seated on the left-hand side of the Speaker.

“That’s why the former PSB members who joined PDP wanted to be taken out and that is an acknowledgement and testament that there are seats meant for the Opposition,” he added.

He was referring to Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh (Bawang Assan), Dr Johnical Rayong Ngipa (Engkelili), and Baru Bian (Ba’Kelalan) from the dissolved PSB who will be joining the government bloc for the upcoming DUN sitting from May 6 to 15.

At present, two of the 82 seats in the DUN are represented by DAP which remains the Opposition, although the party is part of the unity government with GPS at the Federal level. — DayakDaily