KUCHING, Sept 20: Putrajaya is not interfering or appointing any community leaders in Sarawak, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sarawak state secretary Vernon Kedit said in an attempt to clear the air on the appointment of Village Community Management Council (MPKK) matter today.
He emphasised that the federal government will be appointing the chairperson for MPKK which should not be confused with a community leader.
“There is nothing ‘inappropriate’ for the PH (Pakatan Harapan) federal government to have the interests of Sarawakians at heart,” he said in a press release.
“This brave and refreshing initiative is seen and even welcomed by rural Sarawakians as a fresh and positive development,” he added.
Vernon was commenting on Assistant Minister for Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali’s statement saying Putrajaya should not interfere in the appointment of community leaders in Sarawak.
She described Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Sivarasa Rasiah’s recent statement saying that the federal government would go ahead with the appointment of MPKK in Sarawak as “inappropriate”.
“If the minister (Sharifah Hasidah) cannot differentiate between chairperson and community Leader, let me perhaps say it in Bahasa Melayu. ‘Pakatan Harapan (PH) akan melantik pengerusi MPKK, bukan melantik ketua masyarakat atau ketua kaum’ (PH will be appointing MPKK chairperson, not appointing community leaders of village chiefs),” he reiterated.
“Community leaders (ketua masyarakat) and village chiefs (ketua kaum) are two different levels of authorities,” he explained, adding that community leaders are like Temenggong, Pemancha and Penghulu.
He pointed out that the federal government has no say in their appointments as it was entirely state matter.
“No one disputes this. Their salaries are wholly paid by the Sarawak government,” he said in agreeing with Sharifah Hasidah on state having power and perogative to apppoint its own community leaders as per the Community Chief and Head Ordinance 2004.
“Sharifah Hasidah can rest assured that no one is trying to take this away from Sarawak. She should not be confused or complicate the matter, or panic,” he added.
Moroever, Vernon elaborated that if a village chief was appointed a chairperson for MPKK, it cwould only complement what the state government was already doing.
“Their allowances will come directly from the federal government. No laws will be broken and no interference will take place, let alone the infringement of Sarawak’s sacred rights,” he added.
He then alleged that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government’s reaction reflected their fear of weakening grip on rural communities.
“Of course, GPS will fight tooth and nail to maintain its unfettered monopoly over rural communities. PH has set in motion the initiative to empower rural communities through MPKK,” he said.
“It is just a matter of time before various federal government programmes will revitalise rural communities. Naturally, GPS will be in panic mode,” he opined.— DayakDaily