Standing firm over local govt autonomy

Posted on : 01 Aug 2019  Source of News: The Borneo Post

CM stressed Sarawak’s power over local government as enshrined in MA63, state not affected by move to allow local council election

KUCHING: Sarawak will not allow the federal government to take over its autonomy over local government as it is the state’s right as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

“Local government is our right. If they (federal government) can take our local government, habislah kita (we will be ruined),” he said in his speech at the swearing in ceremony for more than 700 councillors here yesterday.

“If local government is taken by the federal government, then they can amend the Constitution. Don’t let this happen; we must defend our rights,” he cautioned.

Speaking to reporters later, Johari revealed that there had been attempts by certain quarters to gain control over Sarawak’s local government.

“Local government is under MA63; it is the right of the state to administer the local government. Though certain people want certain power there but it is safeguarded by MA63.

“There were suggestions that they want to streamline local government but under the constitution you cannot do it because it is our autonomous power under MA63, just like immigration,” he said, acknowledging that the suggestions included having local council elections.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin had said in May that the Local Government Act would be amended to allow council elections to be held again in 2021 using a model that would be unique to Malaysia.

Local council elections ended in 1963 following Indonesia’s confrontation with Malaysia.

Abang Johari also briefly touched on the five per cent oil and gas royalty, adding that Petronas was in the process of paying it.

“It is like income tax, they have to pay — it’s the law.”

Meanwhile, when asked for comment on the proposed relocation of Indonesia’s capital to Kalimantan, Abang Johari said that Sarawak is ready to provide assistance to Indonesia if needed.

“If they have their capital relocated to Kalimantan, of course we can work together with Indonesia on whatever they need.

“At the moment, we are supplying electricity to Kalimantan. If they need extra electricity and we have surplus, why not?” he said.