By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, July 15: Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh’s resignation from the state cabinet is ‘definite’.
Wong who is also International Trade and E-Commerce Minister however, said he needed to seek Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s advice on how and when to finalise his resignation.
He said the first reason he has to seek Abang Johari’s advice was because it is courtesy in Asian culture.
“My resignation from the state cabinet is definite because I have obtained the endorsement from my party ADC (Annual Delegates Conference) two days ago.
“I just want to clarify that some quarters, like (Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr) James Masing, think that when I said I would like to seek CM’s advice before stepping down, they probably think I would like to talk to CM whether I should or should not resign.
“To me it’s a matter of courtesy that I call on CM before I resign, isn’t it? This is a basic Asian moral value because CM is the person who appointed me. Appointment of ministers is his prerogative. It is only a matter of courtesy that I should call on him.
“I talk about basic courtesy. This is part of our Asian culture, our Asian value, common decency and courtesy to call on him, not like (what) people said — that I am illiterate, (that I) can’t read what was written on the wall. Even the papers got me all wrong,” said Wong in a press conference today.
Wong said this in response to Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, who had yesterday told the press that Wong should not have asked Abang Johari to make the decision whether Wong should step down from the State Cabinet as there was already ‘writing on the wall’ and Wong should know what to do.
Wong, who is also Parti Sarawak Bersatu’s (PSB) president said he needed to talk to Abang Johari personally about his resignation because Abang Johari was there to grace the official launching of both United People’s Party (UPP) when it was first formed and PSB, when UPP was rebranded.
“Now we have some political differences, so it is only a matter of courtesy that I should inform him that I leave the cabinet and to where my party is going to, isn’t it?
“He was the one who all along took care of UPP and PSB because he launched the party,” said Wong.
He also defended PSB for trying to ‘save’ Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and keep Sarawakians united, by taking in former ministers and elected representatives who have been sacked from their parties before Pakatan Harapan (PH) takes them in.
“I see no wrong in what PSB did. We merely took in leaders and members of those parties who had either resigned or were sacked from their parties, like Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun and Datuk William Nyalau. They were sacked from their party (PRS).
“So what’s wrong with taking them in? Sri Aman MP Datuk Masir Kujat also resigned voluntarily (and joined PSB). There are tens and thousands of people joining us now.
“We also strengthen GPS in case these people join PH. But people say we are disturbing. Touch one, touch all,” he said.
Asked if PSB would be friendly with PH, Wong said his party would remain a party for Sarawak and Sarawakians, and will work alongside GPS to pursue the restoration of the state’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“I have not thought of that. Ours is a state-based party working for the people of Sarawak. We are fully behind the Chief Minister in his fight against the federal (government) to restore our state’s right and interest under MA63. We are working towards that direction. Our aim and mission is the same as GPS — working for Sarawak alone.
“We are prepared to work with like-minded people and parties for Sarawak and its people,” he assured.
The third reason, he said was because he has been Second Finance Minister for 15 consecutive years since July 2004.
Wong said over the 15 years, he had worked hard and painstakingly built up a reserve of RM31 billion but he alleged that a minister had wanted to spend it all within two years.
“We have tried hard to build up the reserves for our children and grandchildren. We do not like to see in so short a time of two years before election, that the money so difficult to save up all these years be squandered particularly on the ‘Think Big’ projects of dubious merits.
“Then it would be wasteful expenditure. Yes we want development but development must lead to a noticeable improvement for the livelihood of people,” he said.
Wong added, as he has been taking care of the daily running of financial affairs for Sarawak, he could not “just walk away like that”.
“I am sure our CM will have his wisdom to manage the financial affairs of the state but I need to discuss with him before I resign,” said Wong. — DayakDaily