KUCHING (Nov 23): The annual report of Sarawak Sovereign Wealth Future Fund should be tabled at State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting no more than six months after the end of the financial year, says Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen.
While welcoming the establishment of the fund, Chong said the provision as listed in the Bill to set up the fund only mentioned that the annual report had to be tabled ‘as soon as possible’ without providing any specific timeline.
“If you check around, even the council tables its annual report three or four years later. This is one thing that I would like to raise,” said Chong when met by reporters at State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.
According to the Treasury Department, Chong said the term ‘as soon as possible’ for an annual report to be submitted could be a few years after the end of a financial year, which he deemed it as unacceptable.
“Otherwise, it defeats the whole purpose of DUN being the watchdog, the ultimate check and balance institution for the sovereign wealth fund. Thus, the term ‘as soon as possible’ can be too wide an interpretation.”
Besides, Chong said the penalty imposed (RM30,000 or imprisonment of no more than one year for any offence committed in the handling of the Sarawak Sovereign Wealth Future Fund) was too lenient.
“When you are talking about an offence committed, you are talking about intentional misappropriation of billions of ringgit in the fund by a person in-charge. How can the penalty be only RM30,000 or a maximum one year jail only,” said Chong.
That said, Chong said he welcomed the initiative to set up the fund for the benefit of future generations.
“Overall, I think the setting up the sovereign fund is good. Just that it all boils down to the management and I think there are still a few check and balance measures in the law,” said Chong.