KUCHING, Oct 23: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is appalled by the recent statement by Assistant Minister of Local Government Datu Dr Penguang Manggil justifying the directive by the state government to bar community leaders from attending functions or programmes organised by the federal government.
Penguang had said they are merely following the practices of the current federal government where local assemblymen and state government officers are not allowed to be invited to Sekolah Kerajaan (SK) or Sekolah Menengah Kerajaan (SMK) functions .
Dr Yii said that upon hearing Penguang’s statement, he checked with the Deputy Education Minister to verify whether such a directive was issued by the federal government.
“I was informed that there is no such directive from the federal government. Thus, either Penguang is ignorant of the fact and tried to make up an excuse for the state government’s directive, or he is blatantly trying to mislead the public on the matter,” he said in a press statement today.
“The fact of the matter is such a directive itself from the beginning is not only unreasonable, undemocratic but also unconstitutional as it infringes the rights of freedom of association of these community leaders, as well as limits the ability of these community leaders to better serve the people that are under their responsibility,” he added.
Dr Yii said that there are many initiatives by the democratically elected Pakatan Harapan federal ministers and their ministries that are done for the benefit of the people, including to explain government policies and how they will benefit the people, and also to hear feedback and input from these community leaders in order to better carry out their responsibility and formulate better policies that will benefit the community as a whole.
He cited the recent townhall session organised by the Ministry of Agriculture where both the Federal Minister Of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Sallehuddin Ayub and also his Sarawak counterpart Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah had a townhall session with different stakeholders to get their feedback and also hear their concerns on the industry so that they can better serve them.
“This discourse benefitted the farmers and stakeholders that came and even they requested for it to be held more often,” he elaborated.
“The new culture practised by the Pakatan Harapan government is to have more engagement with the people so we can better understand the issues on the ground to better serve the people, and such a directive will not only limit the federal ministers in doing their jobs properly, but also affect the people that are supposed to benefit from the policies of the government. In the end, the people suffer due to such unreasonable decisions by the state government as well as a complete disregard for the democratic choice of the people.”
Dr Yii opined that the common excuse used by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) leaders to defend such directives including stating that the community leaders in the state are appointed and paid monthly allowances by the Sarawak government and thus they are bound by the state government.
He added that first and foremost, even if they are paid by the state government, that money and resources do not belong to the state government but belong to the people.
“The state government collects taxes from the people as revenue to pay these community leaders. Thus, the responsibility of these community leaders are to their people, and to act as a link between the government of the day, whether federal or state, to benefit the people under their care,” he said
“If we follow that logic, then does it mean that federal departments including the hospital, police, fire department that are funded by the federal government do not have the responsibility to serve the state leaders or those being paid by the state government?” he asked.
“It does not work that way and I am saddened that the people including the community leaders are caught in between political games played by the state government. There are issues that are beyond partisan politics including the interest of the people, and that principle should be upheld no matter what,” he lamented.
He hoped that the state government will reconsider the directive and find a common ground to work together with the Pakatan Harapan government for the interest of the people and allow these community leaders to better serve their people including through better engagement with different initiatives by the federal government. — DayakDaily