SDGA supports Bill to limit tenure of PM but…

Gary Ningkan

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Dec 3: The Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) supports the section of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 which limits the tenure of the prime minister but not the part which involves the tenure of the chief ministers.

Its president Gary Ningkan argued the tenure of chief minsters or ‘menteri besar’ is under state jurisdiction and decisions with regards to state matters should not be made in Parliament.

“I think as the country is moving towards its aspiration to become a developed nation, not only in terms of economics, but also in politics, we need to ensure that our policies abide by the very essence of democracy.

“Most first world countries have already practised this (limiting tenure of top leaders) for many years, and it is only logical that we should follow suit in having our Prime Minister hold office for a maximum of two terms.

“This is also good for all voters or citizens. We will have a clearer picture of our leaders’ plans for the country before we decide to vote. Ideally we should be voting for the best policies, and not mere party politics,” Gary told DayakDaily.

He hoped the passing of the bill will ensure that governance will not be monopolised by any individual who may become a “prime minister for life” and that democracy in this country will be protected with “any chance for any form of dictatorship avoided”.

It is also his hope that with limiting the PM’s tenure to two terms, there will be more transparency in the country’s governance.

“I believe this is also the right step forward as it invites fresh ideas from our leaders. They will have greater urgency to see their vision and plans accomplished, and the next premier will want to do better than the previous leadership.

“Two terms is equivalent to approximately 10 years, and that should be enough time to see a certain policy or strategy followed through,” said Gary.

On the Bill which extends to the tenure of chief ministers and ‘menteri besar’, Gary believes that Parliament does not have the power to make decisions on behalf of the states.

“I do not agree that Parliament decides on the the term for state chief ministers and ‘menteri besar’ as this is a state matter, especially when it concerns Sarawak being an equal partner in the formation of Malaysia.

“This is totally against the spirit of MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963). I fear that this may open a floodgate that will lead to further meddling in Sarawak’s governance through outside interference.

“We should uphold our state executive and legislative power. I question the need to extend the jurisdiction to state level, particularly in Sarawak. Let each state’s DUN (State Legislative Assembly) decide on their own ‘Ketua Menteri’ (chief minister’s) tenure,” said Gary.

The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019 to limit the tenure of the prime minister to two terms is being tabled in Parliament today. De-facto Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong is set to table the Bill for the first reading.

The Bill follows Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s announcent last year that the Pakatan Harapan government wanted to limit the tenure of the prime minster, ‘menteri besar’, and chief ministers to two terms. — DayakDaily