Uggah to Baru: `Ketua Masyarakat’ on Sarawak govt’s payroll

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

KUCHING, Dec 31: The monthly salaries of `Ketua Masyarakat’ (community leaders) — comprising Temenggong, Pemanca and Penghulu — are fully paid for by the Sarawak government.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said claims that the federal government was paying 70 per cent of it is wrong.

“We want to correct a social media report of a statement made by Works Minister Baru Bian on the above claim. His statement is misleading because the truth is the salaries of the `Ketua Masyarakat’ are paid fully by the state government,” Uggah said in a statement today.

There are currently 589 `Ketua Masyarakat’ in the state, he said.

Uggah emphasised that the federal government only pays, partially, for the salaries of the `Ketua Kaum’ (native chiefs) — comprising `tuai rumah’, `ketua kampung’ and `kapitan cina’ (native chiefs) — and there are about 5,000 of them in Sarawak.

On the `Ketua Kaum’, he explained that when Pakatan Harapan (PH) came to power in May this year, it had written to Sarawak to inform that it could no longer pay for their salaries.

“But our Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari (Tun Openg), decided for the state government to take over the payment. 

“But the state government had, on Dec 5, received an allocation of RM7.769 million from the federal government to pay for their salaries from October to December this year, at the rate of RM500 per person,” he elaborated. 

But since the normal salary of `Ketua Kaum’ in Sarawak is RM900 per person, he added that the state government had to top up the balance.

Baru, in a statement dated Oct 23, said that the federal government had all the while been allocating a budget for the payment of allowances and salaries of all `Ketua Masyarakat’ all over Malaysia through the Rural Development Ministry. 

In Sarawak, he said, the total amount disbursed, when even out, comes to about 70 per cent of each individual Ketua Masyarakat’s salary. 

Baru, who is also Selangau MP, even assured that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had agreed to continue this practice for Sarawak despite the state not being under a PH state government. 

However, he pointed out that the budgetary support allocated by the PH federal government to the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government could only be paid by the Sarawak GPS government to those `Ketua Masyarakat’ who had been democratically elected by the longhouse or village residents. 

Baru added that current `Ketua Masyarakat’, like `tuai rumah’ who were not democratically elected by the longhouse residents but were unilaterally and politically appointed by GPS elected representatives against the wishes of the longhouse folk cannot receive the 70 per cent portion from the PH federal government allocation. 

Meanwhile, Uggah shared that Minister of Rural Development Datuk Seri Rina Harun, too, had expressed her agreement that the appointment of `Ketua Kaum’ would be left to the state government.

“We have, so far, not receive any new conditions for their appointment as alleged by Baru and now viral in the social media,” said Uggah.— DayakDaily