Putrajaya to empower state in administrative matters, greater autonomy to be discussed in next phases
KUCHING: The state’s negotiation for devolution of power has seen the light of day as the state government will soon implement new administrative empowerment resulting from Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Putrajaya on Wednesday.
The meeting was described as positive, with Adenan disclosing that both parties agreed to divide their discussions into three phases, with the first phase dealing with administrative matters.
“In the second phase, we will be negotiating on rights and constitution, development planning and implementation of federal projects.
“In the third phase, we will be discussing on matters such as oil royalty, Sarawak’s stake in oil and gas resources, validity of Territorial Waters Act, Continental Shelf Act, Petroleum Development Act and financial provisions,” he said in a press conference at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here yesterday.
The first phase, Adenan said would cover 13 provisions of administration empowerment to the state government. They are:
◆ State legal officers are to be authorised by the public prosecutor under the Criminal Procedure Code to conduct prosecution for offences under state ordinances from the state a person is charged in the lower court until the appeal stage.
◆ It is also agreed for the delegation of power to state officers to represent the Public Service Commission and the Education Service Commission in the appointment of officers to the Federal Civil Service including the teaching and medical services.
◆ Posts in the State Immigration Department will also be enhanced to improve the enforcement functions in the state with an increase of 100 new posts to be filled by Sarawakians, with full deployment by the end of February 2016.
◆ The ratio of Sarawak-born teachers serving in Sarawak will be increased to 90 per cent of the total number of teachers in Sarawak by 2018. To ensure that this target is achieved, temporary teachers from the open market will be considered from time to time and obtain their Diploma in Education while teaching.
◆ Traffic warden powers for Sarawak local authorities will be given to Miri City Council, apart from Kuching North City Commission and Kuching South City Council.
◆ The state government will be consulted before an applicant for a deep sea fishing permit is forwarded to the Deep Sea Permit Evaluation Committee for consideration, especially when the licence is to operate in Sarawak waters.
◆ The state government will first be consulted in the drafting of federal legislation which has bearing or impact on the State Government of Sarawak, where provided by law.
◆ The planning of federal government projects in the State of Sarawak will give priority to the five-year Sarawak State Development Plan based on the approved budget. Implementation of the projects will be referred/negotiated between the ministry and the state government in areas such as determining the location of schools, hospitals, appointment of consultants, developers and contractors as well as the implementation of other development projects.
◆ The ministry will take the necessary measures to increase the number of student enrolment from amongst Sarawakians into medical degree programmes in public universities. Sarawakians would be given greater opportunity to enter foundation studies programmes in Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).
◆ It is agreed that the relevant areas that can be delegated will be identified for delegating the power of the director-general under Section 49 of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 to the state officers or departments.
◆ Development of housing projects in Sarawak will be re-implemented through a joint committee meeting to ensure that the state agencies are fully involved in the planning, implementation and monitoring aspects of these projects in the State of Sarawak.
◆ It is agreed that the development of sports in the State of Sarawak is jointly managed with the state government. The Ministry of Youth and Sports is also in the process of enhancing the Sports Development Act 1997 which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
◆ It is agreed that the state government will carry out all functions under the Department of Social Welfare. All posts will be transferred to the state civil service. The federal government will contribute 50 per cent of the costs incurred as decided by the National Finance Council.
Adenan also said both state and federal departments will coordinate with each other, adding “the post of the federal secretary will serve as a coordinating officer.”
He later touched on the second and third phases of the devolution of power negotiation which would include a list of encroachment of powers and non-compliance by the federal authorities.
“Matters like tourism was a residual matter but under the Constitution amendment of 1994, listed as item 25 (a) in the Federal List with effect from 1994. Now we want that power to be delegated back to Sarawak.
“Preservation of heritage was a residual matter but under the Constitution, listed as item 9 (e) in the Concurrent List. Sports was a residual matter but under the Constitution amendment, listed as item 9 (b) in the Concurrent List.”
Adenan also noted that although environment was not listed in any of the lists, the Environment Quality Act was made applicable to the state in 1975, despite the existence of State Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance.
“As for shipping, Merchant Shipping Act amendment and Extension Act was extended to Sarawak despite the state’s objection. This amendment affects certain rights of the state, for example, as stated in the Sarawak Land Code.”
With the second phase to start in due course, Adenan thus called on the people of Sarawak to give him the mandate in the upcoming state election.
“Because of these phases, I need more time and that is why I seek mandate from the people of Sarawak. If I’m given a big mandate, I’ll be in stronger position to negotiate our rights with the federal government.”
Among those present during the press conference were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, Second Finance Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, Infrastructure Development and Communication Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong, Social Development Minister Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom, Assistant Minister of Public Utilities Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Chief Political Secretary to the Chief Minister Abdullah Saidol and State Secretary Tan Sri Datuk Amar Morshidi Abdul Ghani.