S’wak govt already made reference, recommendations to MOH on devolution of health matters to region

Sharifah Hasidah speaking during the question and answer session at the DUN sitting today (May 19, 2023). Screenshot taken from Ukas' Facebook livestream.

By Ling Hui

KUCHING, May 19: The Sarawak government has already made reference and recommendations to the Ministry of Health (MoH) to seek to include proposals to discuss the devolution of medicine and healthcare matters to Sarawak before the presentation of the proposed White Paper.

Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Office (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali said the Sarawak government would come up with its own roadmap or timeline to ensure all demands and recommendations are to be fulfilled.

“The recommendations made by the Sarawak government, among others, are to improve the health status indicators in the state, to reduce the health care gaps in Sarawak in terms of coverage, accessibility, quality and safety, to enhance health and public utilities to Rural Health Facilities, as well as to upgrade the health service delivery for the people in Sarawak.

“All these are to be carried out through empowerment to the Sarawak government with the requisite executive authority over health to enable the Sarawak government to address shortcomings of the healthcare system in Sarawak,” she said, responding to a question by Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How during the question and answer session at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today.

Sharifah Hasidah also said such executive authority or empowerment to Sarawak is allowed by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, provided for in Article 80(4), which states that “Federal Law may provide that the executive authority of a state shall extend to the administration of any specified provisions of federal law and may for that purpose confer powers and impose duties or any authority of the state”.

“Hence, this shows that the executive authority requested by the Sarawak government can be given or may be conferred through the above mention provisions to enable the Sarawak government to carry out the Federal functions over health matters,” she said.

Should the federal government not agree to the executive authority empowerment, Sharifah Hasidah said administrative arrangement, particularly over the setting up of facilities, maintenance, human resources and equipment of hospitals and clinics, can be undertaken by the Sarawak government with the provision of necessary funds as provided under Article 80(5) of the Federal Constitution.

“This could be agreed upon between federal and Sarawak governments through talks and further negotiation,” she added.

For the record, Article 80(5) of the Federal Constitution states that “arrangements may be made between the Federation and a state for the performance of any functions by the authorities of the one on behalf of the authorities of the other, and such arrangements may provide for the making of payments in respect of any costs incurred under the arrangements”. — DayakDaily