Sarawak Multimedia Authority will be chaired by CM — Wong

Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg will chair the newly set-up Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), a body to spearhead the making of Sarawak into a cyber powerhouse.

The State Secretary, State Attorney-General and the State Financial Secretary will be its three ex-officio members, and it will also include not less than five and not more than seven other members with the right credentials, expertise and experience in the field of information technology.

The formation of SMA was realised following the passing of Sarawak Multimedia Authority Bill 2017 at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh said the new law would not contravene any federal law regulating telecommunications or multimedia which is a federal power.

He explained the establishment of SMA was pursuant to the power to incorporate authorities and other bodies set up by State Law provided for under Article 95B of the Federal Constitution which states that for Sabah and Sarawak, Item 14 of List IIA in the Ninth Schedule shall be deemed to form part of the State List.

As such, the soon-to-be formed SMA will not duplicate the roles of federal agency Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) which is still the agency for licensing and regulating communication and multimedia industry in Malaysia pursuant to List I, Item 10 (g) and (h) of Tenth Schedule of the Federal Constitution.

“The SMA does not encroach into the jurisdiction of MCMC but it complements MCMC. The SMA’s regulatory powers are derived from existing state laws as well as future laws to be enacted in accordance with the constitutional provisions,” he said in winding-up yesterday.

Wong also said Sarawakians should be grateful that the chief minister, as the chief executive of the government, is going to head SMA.

Responding to opposition members who questioned the appointment, Wong said they were ignorant of the ministerial portfolios of the Chief Minister which also include Digital Economy and Telecommunication.

“This is one big important portfolio held by the Chief Minister. So, it is only right that he be appointed the chairman of SMA,” he said.

He also said SMA has the powers to appoint any person with the requisite knowledge, expertise and experience in communication and multimedia as adviser or consultant for the SMA, and may form a panel of advisers or consultants to advise or assist the SMA in the discharge of its functions.

“Our Chief Minister is popularly elected to govern the state of Sarawak. He has to be fully responsible for what the government is doing. As the chief executive, how can you leave it to the advisors to do what they want?

“He (our Chief Minister) has to be in charge, and let the advisors tell him what to do. This is the proper way of doing things, this is also based on the Westminster model,” he said.

He said SMA is to spearhead the state’s digital economy including the development of digital infrastructure, cyber security, talent development, e-commerce, research and development in digital technology, digital innovation and entrepreneurship and digital government in the state.

“SMA is one-stop centre for communication and multimedia activities in the state in accordance with this Ordinance and other related state laws. For example, SMA will play the role of SPA (State Planning Authority) in so far as the structure, communications tower on any land or building and any other incidental works, including laying of cables, for purposes of communication and multimedia activities in the state,” he said.

Responding to concerns whether Sacofa Sdn Bhd’s role is affected, Wong explained under this provision, any agreements relating to communication and multimedia activities entered into whether before or after the commencement of this Ordinance shall be read subject to the provision of this Ordinance.

In the event of any conflict between the provisions of those agreements and the provision of this Ordinance, he said the Ordinance shall prevail.

“The relevant provisions which are in conflict with the Ordinance shall become void. The agreement with Sacofa also contains a provision to this effect. This provision can be found in clause 11 of the Agreement,” he said.

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