Sarawak will accept education, health autonomy under one condition — Dr Sim

Dr Sim delivering his winding-up speech at the DUN sitting today (May 7, 2019) as seen in this photo of the DUN in-house broadcast feed.

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, May 7: The Sarawak government fully supports the decentralising of the federal government’s authority on education and health but in return, Putrajaya must provide RM8 billion annually to discharge the executive functions in the state.

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said the federal government must, under Article 80(5), provide the state with an amount to be agreed to carry out the functions under the two subject matter.

He cited Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen, who is a member of the Special Steering Committee on Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), as saying that the annual expenditures on education and health amounted to RM8 billion.

“The honourable Member for Kota Sentosa (Chong) had promised, in a video clip widely circulated, that the Pakatan Harapan would give Sarawak 20 per cent oil and gas royalty and 50 per cent of the tax revenue collected in Sarawak.

“He had in this august House attempted to qualify that promise by saying that it is tied to the devolution of power in education and health care.

“To begin with, the state government had presented to both the Special Steering Committee on implementation of the MA63 and the Technical Committee that the federal government should transfer executive authority over education and medicine and health under Article 95C(1)(a) read with Article 80(4) of the Federal Constitution to the state government,” Dr Sim said in his winding-up speech at the State Assembly (DUN) sitting today.

He expected Chong to fully support the state’s request to the federal government to transfer executive functions over education and health to Sarawak (with an Order from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong under Article 42 95C(1)(a) to effect such a transfer).

Putrajaya must also undertake in writing to provide a sum of RM8 billion annually to the state to discharge the executive functions over education and health in Sarawak, he said.

“I can assure this august House that once the executive functions over these two subjects are transferred, the state government would be able to discharge these functions to the standards and with due diligence that would meet the expectations and aspirations of Sarawakians.”

Dr Sim also touched on the motion on the comprehensive amendment to the Federal Constitution tabled by Sarawak de facto Law Minister Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali on April 30, which received unanimous support from the DUN.

The Batu Kawah assemblyman said the fight for Sarawak’s rights under the MA63 comes down to two things — independence from colonial rule and financial independence to develop and progress among the family of nations.

“It cannot be denied that since Malaysia Day, there had been an erosion of the constitutional rights and safeguards promised to Sarawak to secure her agreement to join in the formation of Malaysia.

“It is the solemn duty of all Sarawakians and their representatives in this august House to defend and safeguard the rights and territory of the state, at all times,” he continued.

Dr Sim reminded the august House that without Sarawak, there is no Malaysia, but without Malaysia, there is still Sarawak.

During his tenure as a Senator, Dr Sim said he had raised the need to have one-third comprise Members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak to safeguard their interests from constitutional amendments, as both states are considered minority in terms of population. — DayakDaily