New Deal is off the table, says state PH chairman

Chong (centre) shows the directive from the BN state government to the Education Department while speaking to reporters​, flanked by Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii (left) and Padungan assemblyman Wong King Wei.

KUCHING, May 16: The ‘New Deal Agreement’ which state Pakatan Harapan (PH) offered to state Barisan Nasional (BN) to work together to devolve certain powers to the state including taxation, education, healthcare and others, is off.

State PH chairman Chong Chieng Jen said the deal was off the moment the election (GE14) started, and even if the state BN wanted to sign the deal now, there would be no way state PH would accept it.

“Already past (deadline). They (state BN) refused. With what is going on at present, I think it will be dangerous to devolve power to them (state BN). They can use it as a tool for their political vengeance on the people.

“So if you devolve power to them, the more power they will have, the more vengeful they will be, the more adverse consequences their act will have on the people. So it’s a blessing in disguise they did not sign the agreement,” Chong told a press conference this afternoon.

The agreement papers were delivered to the Chief Minister’s Department on April 26 by Chong and state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) state chairman Baru Bian, but they were stopped by Wisma Bapa Malaysia security from delivering it by hand to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The ‘New Deal Agreement’ was for greater autonomy and devolution of power to Sarawak in the event that PH forms the next federal government.

It outlined the wishes of Sarawakians for greater autonomy, devolution of power to Sarawak and a path towards the transformation of Sarawak.

The six-page agreement touched on restoration of territorial integrity and devolution of powers in taxation and public revenue, education, health, social security, civil infrastructure development, natural resources and tourism.

“We already forwarded the agreement last time but they refused to sign. Since they refuse to accept the devolution of power deal, it now still remains with the federal government. Because if they want devolution of power they would have to receive or accept and sign this agreement.

“Since they refused to accept, then we cannot devolve. By the looks of it and the way the state BN government is acting, I don’t think they are fit to run the administration. They will cause a lot of problems,” said Chong, who is also state Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman and Stampin MP.

Earlier he had expressed his disappointment over the state government’s orders to disallow schools from writing in to make May 17-18 schooling days.

The statement from the state Education Department telling schools to abide by the state government’s directive to declare May 17-18 as holidays.​

Yesterday, Chong visited the state Education Department to urge schools and teachers to write in to the department to carry out classes on May 17-18 as the dates were declared state holidays by the state government.

Coincidentally the dates also coincide with midterm examinations, which students are now not able to sit for.

However later that same day, Chong said he was informed that the state government issued a directive to the department that schools or teachers could not write in to apply for those dates as schooling days.

Chong said any matter in education could not just be decided or acted upon at the state government’s whims and fancies, having political considerations as primary considerations.

“What Abang Johari has done declaring May 17-18 as holidays and forbidding the teachers and schools to conduct classes is clearly politicising education and obviously venting his anger and sorrow over BN’s loss in GE14 on the teachers and students, and parents.

“This directive not only applicable to primary and secondary schools but also kindergartens. This is ridiculous and there must be some basic principles and rules to adhere to when it comes to education matters,” he added. — DayakDaily