Federal govt to appoint Tuai Rumah, community leaders elected by the people

Sivarasa speaking to reporters after the opening dinner for the Sarawak PKR Branch AGM in Kuching.

KUCHING, Sept 16: The federal government will appoint their own Tuai Rumah or community Leaders in the state.

This idea was mooted after the federal cabinet decided to revamp and rebrand the Village Development and Safety Committee (JKKK) to Village Community Management Council (MPKK) in June last year.

Deputy Rural Development Minister Sivarasa Rasiah said the mechanics of the appointment of Tuai Rumah and community leaders in Sarawak will be worked out by the ministry, and is expected to be revealed some time in January next year.

“This is a decision by the cabinet, that we will be revamping the MPKK (from JKKK) appointment system in five states — Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Perlis and Sarawak.

“MPKK is a term created by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to replace and rebrand the old JKKK. It consists of community leaders or Tuai Rumah and their committees,” he told reporters after the state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Branch Annual General Meeting (AGM) opening dinner here on Sunday (Sept 15).

Sivarasa said the idea was mooted after negotiations with the state government regarding allowance payments for the state’s community leaders and Tuai Rumah reached a stalemate late last year.

Relations became more strained when the State Secretary last year issued a circular to community leaders and Tuai Rumah appointed by the state government instructing them not to attend any functions organised by the PH government.

“So last year the PH government agreed that the community leaders would be appointed by the respective state governments, but in Sarawak it has not worked out very well.

“For example, it has gone to the extent that last year there was even a letter issued by the State Secretary of Sarawak warning all Tuai Rumah and community leaders appointed by the state, that they or their committee cannot attend events organised by PH assemblymen or MPs,” Sivarasa explained.

Works Minister Baru Bian who is also Selangau MP in his speech earlier had proposed that community leaders and Tuai Rumah be elected instead of appointed by the state government.

This is to ensure that the village or longhouse would be led by someone they want, and not by someone who has political interests.

“Like what Baru has said in his speech earlier, there are many places where the longhouse committee will, by election, pick a certain Tuai Rumah, but he will not be appointed by the state government.

“We will appoint our own so the (federal) minister will sign the appointment letter,” said Sivarasa.

When asked what if a longhouse with a federal-appointed Tuai Rumah already has a state government appointed one, which would create tension among the longhouse folks, he said it would be up to the longhouse folk to decide since they will be the one electing the federal-appointed Tuai Rumah.

“After all we federal government are paying their salaries. The money is there. Certainly in Peninsula states we are paying. As far as Sarawak, the money flow has always been there, but because of this tension I think the state government stopped accepting the money after a while.

“We will do our best to avoid that (tension among longhouse residents). We will use the model which Baru has described just now (elected Tuai Rumah).

“There are many cases of Tuai Rumah who are elected, but not appointed (by the state government). So we will go back to that model. We will have a leader who has the support of the people. I think that is the best way forward,” he said. — DayakDaily