Sunday, June 20

Chong slammed over remarks on autonomy, devolution of power

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Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

SIBU: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah has slammed state Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Chong Chieng Jen for trying to hoodwink Sarawakians.

The former points out that autonomy and devolution of powers have nothing to do with Democratic Action Party (DAP) – of which Chong is the Sarawak chairman.

“Who is YB Chong and DAP trying to hoodwink? Autonomy and devolution of powers are about decentralisation of powers from the central government to the state government.

“In Sarawak’s case, it is about Putrajaya willing to give back the rights of the state, which have been slowly taken away (from Sarawak) through the years.

“It has nothing to do with DAP and PH taking over the state government first before it could be done,” Abdul Karim said in a statement yesterday.

His remarks are in response to Chong’s recent statement, which said the only way for Sarawakians to acquire autonomy was through the change in the state government during the next election.

Referring to the return of power in education and healthcare matters, Chong accused the state government of being unwilling to take up the responsibility.

On this, Abdul Karim said: “Chong must not hoodwink the ‘rakyat’ (people). Now is the time since DAP and PH, whether at federal or state level, have specifically stated in its election manifesto that it would recognise and respect the rights of Sabah and Sarawak as per MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963) within 100 days of PH government.”

He also stressed that Chong should not beat around the bush, trying to look for an ‘escape route’.

“He (Chong) tried to do it earlier by saying that the ‘deal is off’, as the state government refused to pen the MOU (memorandum of understanding) with them.

“Now, he’s looking for another escape route – that is the DAP and PH must change the state government first before the autonomy and devolution of powers could materialise.

“YB Chong must be thinking that Sarawakians are stupid and could be hoodwinked as he pleases,” said Abdul Karim, adding: “Now is the time for the return of the state’s rights. It is an election promise by the federal and state PH; now PH is the government of the day in Malaysia.”