By Geryl Ogilvy
KUCHING, Nov 14: Sarawak will continue to appoint community leaders through the Ketua Masyarakat dan Ketua Kaum (KMKK) Divisional Selection Committee chaired by the respective divisional Resident.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas commented that appointments through election was not the standard practice of the state government, which currently adopts the ‘bermuafakat’ system.
“Cohesion among the community is the best system to maintain harmony in our multiracial society,” he said when delivering his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.
Uggah, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, was responding to a suggestion raised by Baru Bian (PKR-Ba’Kelalan) and Ali Biju (PKR-Krian) on the appointment of community leaders made through the election process.
He added that the state would also consider applications to increase the number of community leaders based on current needs and justifications from the respective Resident’s and District Offices. He said this in response to Mohammad Razi Sitam (PBB-Saribas).
On the delay in the appointment of community leaders as raised by Ali and Datuk Dr Juanda Jaya (GPS-Jemoreng), Uggah explained that there were compulsory procedures that needed to be carried out once the candidates had been identified, which included vetting — for national security purposes.
“There is a delay in the appointment of community leaders because it involves a comprehensive vetting process by the required party, and this takes time.
“Nevertheless, the state government, in collaboration with the police, will take the necessary steps to expedite the process.”
To ensure a smooth continuation or replacement of community leaders, the state government has decided to process the termination or continuation of their services at least six months before the end of service, Uggah continued.
In response to Violet Yong (DAP-Pending) and Ali on a circular from the State Secretary dated Oct 11, 2018, that prohibits community leaders from attending Pakatan Harapan (PH) functions, Uggah clarified that community leaders were allowed to attend programmes and events as long as they were official functions from the state.
On another matter, Uggah, the Minister-in-charge for the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), said the state government would look into the idea of making Unifor a full-fledged department.
Sarawak recently approved 15 new ‘Jawatan Berasaskan Caruman’ (JBC) posts in addition to 17 earlier JBC posts to strengthen the functions and capacity of Unifor.
Uggah added that this year, a total of RM34 million was approved for the construction, repair and upgrade of 235 houses of worship.
Last year, RM15 million was allocated to benefit 77 non-Islamic religious institutions. Uggah said of the number, 25 projects had been completed, with the remaining 52 at various stages of implementation. — DayakDaily