‘Umno still holds the reins despite what CM claims’

KUCHING, Feb 21: A state opposition leader alleges Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s claim that Sarawak-based parties are determining their own destiny is merely hot air as the Umno-controlled federal government continues to have full control over three major ministries.

“If we were to “determine our own destiny”, we must have full control over the rights to taxation, education and healthcare. At the moment, these ministries and powers are still firmly in the hands of the federal Umno government.

“To our disappointment, the state BN (Barisan Nasional) government does not even dare to demand for the full devolution of these three areas of power from its Umno master in the federal government,” said Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen in a press statement today.

He cited taxation as an example, saying the federal government’s revenue was RM220 billion in 2017 and estimated to be RM240 billion in 2018. By comparison, the state government’s revenue was only RM6 billion in 2017 and RM5.5 billion in 2018.

“The state government’s annual revenue was less than three per cent of the federal government’s annual revenue. As such, for the implementation of most major projects, the state will still have to ‘beg’ for the necessary funding.

“Moreover, GST which affects the everyday lives of all Sarawakians was implemented with the blind support of Sarawak BN. On this matter, the Sarawak BN sided with the federal Umno government to force the GST onto all Sarawakians.”

Chong who is also state PH chairman questioned how Sarawak-based parties were going to determine Sarawak’s destiny when these three major ministries are within the full control of Umno.

“To make matter worse, Abang Jo’s so-call negotiation for devolution of power does not even touch on these matters, but only on some trivial peripheral matters,” he lamented.

He contrasted this with the promises made by Pakatan Harapan (PH) to return power to Sarawakians, namely, the return of 20 per cent oil and gas royalties and 50 per cent of all taxes collected in Sarawak to the state government; full power in education, including all matters on school syllabuses, building of schools, employment of teachers and setting up of English medium schools; and full power in healthcare including all matters on development of hospitals and clinics, employment of doctors and nurses and procurement of medicine and medical equipment.

“This is the new deal offered to the people of Sarawak should PH become the federal government in the next election. There is no need for further negotiation.

“On the contrary, at the moment, (Prime Minister Datuk Seri) Najib (Tun Razak), the federal Umno government and the Sarawak BN government are still beating around the bush about the negotiation on the devolution of power. Abang Jo cannot even tell us specifically what ministry and power the devolution of which the state BN is negotiating for.

“Even (demand for) the 20 per cent oil and gas royalties which the Sarawak DUN (State Legislative Assembly) has unanimously approved three years ago has now been shelved and forgotten by both state and federal BN governments.

“It is abundantly clear that the federal Umno government will never devolve power on taxation, education and healthcare to Sarawak and the Sarawak BN does not dare to make demands thereof for fear of antagonizing its Umno master,” he said.

Chong also emphasised that to allow Najib and Umno to rule Malaysia for another five years will spell disaster for the whole nation.

“Therefore, if Sarawakian wants genuine devolution of power, in particular full power in education and healthcare and the powers over taxation, the only way is to have PH as the federal government,” he added. — DayakDaily