State wants to see speedier, efficient services — Adenan

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KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem says his priority is to ensure that the state and the people benefit from a more efficient and effective implementation of some matters which at present are under the federal and concurrent lists.

As a start, Adenan said among the matters his administration would want to be decentralised are powers relating to prosecution for criminal offences under state laws.

“As we all know, currently only the federal attorney-general has the power to prosecute under any law. We want that to be delegated to us in relation to the state ordinances,” he said during his speech at the one-day State Legislative Assembly sitting yesterday.

Another matter the state government wanted to be delegated to the state, he added, is the administration of sports, adding there was no point for sports matters in Sarawak to be controlled by the federal government.

“Don’t tell me every time you want to have a sports meet, you need permission from Kuala Lumpur. You will kill volunteerism if you do that. Let sports be in the hands of people who know about sports, instead of being controlled by bureaucrats.”

The decentralisation of power should also include matters pertaining to the environment, to be in sync with the policies of the state including those relating to treatment of wastes and issuing of licences and permits, he continued.

“The federal government has Environment Department in Kuching. We also have our own (Environment Department in the state) dealing with the same matter. Why should there be duplication when we are there on the spot.

“We want to take back that responsibility because we know better and in fact, the subject matter of environment has never been under the federal list until some years ago. It is never mentioned in the original constitution so the residual power remains with the state and that includes environment.”

The same goes for tourism, he added, pointing out the subject was not supposed to be a federal matter and the state must be given autonomy to promote its own tourism.

He said the state also wanted authority in financial matters, including those related to fees and licences for services and matters within the purview of the federal government, as well as the review of special grants to the state under Article 112D.

Besides taking charge on matters pertaining to shipping, including lights and buoys, as well as wrecks and salvage, the state also wanted control on public works in the state.

“Currently, you have a federal Public Works Department (PWD) and a state Public Works Department that had existed well before the federal one. Why do you need to have two, especially when the projects are going to be implemented in Sarawak?

“Our own PWD is competent enough. Why do they have to be controlled by Kuala Lumpur when the implementation is done here?”

Adenan said the state also wanted power on education to be in tandem with the state requirements, besides other matters related to health, welfare, tourism, fisheries, heritage and housing.

“I have discussed this matter with the Prime Minister and he has agreed in principle to empower Sarawak with more autonomy. The details on the types of empowerment that can be handed over to the state government are being discussed between the chief secretary to the government of Malaysia and the Sarawak state secretary.”

At the state level, he said a committee chaired by the state secretary had been formed comprising four sub-committees on constitutional rights, financial and funding, administration matters and development planning and implementation.