Easier to restore state’s rights by changing government, says Chong

KUCHING, Jan 22: A state Opposition leader has claimed that the negotiation over devolution of power between Putrajaya and the Sarawak government will not materialise, as compared to Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto which promises to return states’ fiscal autonomy.

State Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen said that state leaders had given contradicting statements on the negotiations over devolution of powers which shows that there is not a clear agenda on the matter.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had recently said that Sarawak is ready to enter talks with Putrajaya over the second phase of devolution of powers, which touched on constitutional rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

“Before (Pehin Sri) Adenan Satem passed away, he already said that they were in the second phase of the negotiation (on devolution of powers). He passed away more than a year ago and now Abang Jo has said they are entering the second phase.

“The details of the negotiation are very unclear and the Sarawak government has to wait for Putrajaya for the negotiation. But for Pakatan Harapan, there is no need for negotiations.”

In Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto ‘New Deal For Sarawak Part Two’ which was launched two days ago, the Opposition alliance pledged that Sarawak will retain 50 per cent of all tax revenues collected in Sarawak and receive 20 per cent of oil and gas royalties.

“The government of Sarawak shall use these funds to shoulder the fiscal responsibility of the federal government in Education and Health. This shouldering of fiscal responsibility is to be accompanied and guided by good governance practices: a high quality of service delivery; competency; accountability; and transparency,” the manifesto states.

Chong said decision-making rights over Education matters will be returned to Sarawak, and there will be also the setting up of English medium schools so parents will have the free choice to decide whether their children’s education will be in Bahasa Melayu, English or Mandarin.

“Without finance, Sarawak cannot decide and cannot implement policies like how many teachers and doctors to hire,” said Chong.

“To get our autonomy, there is no need to wait for more negotiations; we just need to change government,” he added. — DayakDaily