Do not approve enforcement of new biodiversity law in state, Chong tells state govt

Chong Chieng Jen

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KUCHING: Sarawak DAP chief, Chong Chieng Jen, today said Sarawak should not enforce the new Access to Biological Resources and Benefits Sharing Act that was passed by parliament on Monday as “it is another federal law that would have an effect of eroding Sarawak’s autonomy”.

The Bill was tabled by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
The erosion of autonomy, the Bandar Kuching MP said, would be in the field of biodiversity study, development and commercialisation activities.

He said since there was a clause that the Act would only take effect after consultation with the state government, the state government take up the option and block the enforcement of the Act in the state.

Chong said biodiversity research, development and commercialisation, especially when it comes to those found in the forest which is abundant in Sarawak, had been the exclusive jurisdiction of the state government since the formation of Malaysia.

He also pointed out the state has already a law on managing the state’s biodiversity R&D and commercialisation in the Biodiversity Centre Ordinance that was passed by the state legislative assembly in 1997.

He said the state could lose its exclusivity in the control of these valuable resources to the federal government if the Act is enforced in the state.

“A federal agency will then be set up under the Act to formulate regulations and policies controlling such activities.”

He said though there was an assurance, “in reality, the federal government has the means to pressure the state government into subservience”.

One way, he said, is by squeezing federal allocation to the state.
“Therefore, this Bill that Wan Junaidi tabled on Monday, is opening the way for federal intervention into the research, development and commercialisation of biodiversity products which has all this while been within the exclusive state’s jurisdiction and autonomy.”

Chong, who claimed he warned Wan Junaidi in parliament that Monday of the effect of the Bill, also said “there are many other provisions in the Bill that empowers the federal government to formulate policies and regulations affecting the research, development and commercialisation of biodiversity products.

“In fact, if one were to look into our history, that was exactly how Sarawak has lost many of its autonomy to the federal government in many areas.

“First, the implementation of federal laws or policies in Sarawak with the consent or consultation of the state.

“Then federal agencies exert their influences and ultimately the federal agencies takes over the management of the whole matter and state agencies becoming subordinates to the federal agencies.

“If Wan Junaidi cares to study the history of Sarawak in Malaysia, he will know exactly what I am talking about.”

“It is a shame that a federal law that has the effect of erosion of Sarawak’s autonomy is now tabled by a federal minister who comes from Sarawak.

“That just goes to show that, the show of “Sarawak for Sarawakian” or “Fighting for Sarawak Autonomy” put up by the Sarawak Barisan Nasional is just a play-acting to pull the wool over the eyes of Sarawakians.

“On the one hand, the Sarawak BN tells Sarawakians that it is fighting for Sarawak’s autonomy.

“On the other hand, a Sarawak BN minister sitting in the federal cabinet tabled and passed federal laws that cause the erosion of Sarawak’s autonomy.

“This is a clear sell-out of Sarawak’s autonomy,” Chong said. –