“We should take back our money since Putrajaya won’t pay up”

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah - file pic

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Nov 7: Asajaya assemblyman Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah says Sarawak might as well take back its oil and gas royalty and taxes paid to Putrajaya if Sarawak has to fund all the state’s expenses such as payment for Village Development and Security Committees (JKKKs) despite the federal government taking Sarawak’s resources.

Abdul Karim said this in reference to an announcement by Works Minister Baru Bian that the federal government would stop making payments for JKKKs beginning next year.

To him, it was “very wrong” for the federal government to withdraw the allocation for JKKK, an arrangement which was agreed to between Sarawak and the federal government and has been in practice for decades.

“Then if that is the case, then might as well we don’t give them 95 per cent of oil royalty (as) everything from the state should come under the state. We don’t have to pay tax anymore to the federal government.

“That (payment to JKKKs) is the responsibility of the federal government,” said Abdul Karim in a press conference on the sidelines of the Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today.

He explained when the Federation of Malaysia was formed, the respective jurisdictions of the state and federal governments were clearly spelt out through the State List, Federal List, Concurrent List and Residue List.

There was, he said, also agreement based on convention, which the payment for JKKKs comes under, where even though JKKKs are under the state List, it has been agreed that both state and federal governments would share the expenses in terms of payment to local village chiefs and longhouse headmen.

“We can’t put everything in the agreement or the federal constitution, but then there are certain things that come within what we call convention.

“And it has been since time memorial that we know, the management of villages, kampung, rumah panjang (longhouses), even though it comes under the state by convention, the federal government has always come in to share the maintenance and management. All these years, the federal government provided half of the cost for maintenance.

“It runs into the millions and millions because we have got so many kampung and villages. All together, we have got 6,000 JKKKs or kampung.”

“So that is the reason the state allowed the federal government to pick a big chunk (as) taxation comes under the federal government. The government will come back to provide funds for a lot of other matters. So that is where, (cost for) management of JKKKs has always been by convention, sharing (between state and federal governments),” said Abdul Karim.

He opined that all Sarawakians MPs who sit in the Cabinet should fight Putrajaya’s decision, if they are truly Sarawakians in hearts.

Abdul Karim believed that Sarawakians should not be taken as second-class Malaysians as Sarawak is part of the federation.

“We are also Malaysians. If you are to say that we are not Malaysians, we also sing the same ‘NegaraKu’ like the one sung in Kuala Lumpur. We also stand up when ‘NegaraKu’ is being sung.

“We still consider ourselves to be very proud Malaysians. But why are we being treated like second-class Malaysians?” he questioned.

Abdul Karim was asked to respond to the setting up of Federal Village Community Management Councils (MPKKPs) by the federal government which the Sarawak government objects to.

To fund the MPKKPs, the federal government also announced that it would stop funding JKKKs beginning next year. — DayakDaily