KUCHING (Sept 14): The proposed Ombudsman Ordinance to be tabled in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting this November will introduce a system that reports directly to the state legislature, said premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said the new ombudsman system aims to strengthen check-and-balance in the state administration to prevent abuse of power.
“We want to introduce the Ombudsman Ordinance so that the reporting system is not to the premier but to DUN itself.
“This is to prevent abuse of power. I want our system to report to DUN and not to me so that they are independent to investigate. That is fair,” he said at the ‘Majlis Amanat Perdana Integriti 2023’ (MAP-I) and launch of the National Integrity Conference (PINK) at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here today.
He explained that under this proposed ordinance, this would allow the public to be in-the-know of any issues that have been reported.
“If they report to DUN, at least the public knows. If the person is wrong, they are wrong lah.
“At the end of the day, you are accountable to the people,” he said.
Abang Johari said that the proposed ombudsman system has been looked through by the state attorney general after his recent trip to Sweden to study the ombudsman system there.
“We recently visited countries with the lowest corruption perception index and Sweden has one of the longest ombudsman systems in the world which started in 1809. They have improved on their system over this long period of time so much so that today it has become the norm for them.
“The state attorney general has already seen our law with input from all the countries we visited.
“What we want is for integrity to have a force of law for us to administer issues relating to integrity. We hope to see integrity become part of our lives,” he said.
Abang Johari said as the premier, he is accountable to Sarawak and its people.
“When we have a community with good administration, the state will advance and become prosperous.
“If the state is well administered, there will be less risk so investors will have more confidence in us, and they will be willing to invest in Sarawak.
“This in turn will create jobs and therefore the people’s welfare will be looked after,” he said.
On the issue of integrity, Abang Johari urged the people, particularly civil servants, to take into account three elements that will contribute towards a strong and developed state.
“You must first serve sincerely and not expect rewards in return. God is the one who rewards us and it’s not necessarily monetary, but it can be in the form of good health to allow us to carry out our duties properly.
“The second element is the importance of law. This is a framework where it will increase the policy of governance that will bring to compliance,” he said.
The third element, he said, was accountability.
“We are accountable to the community, the state, our country and God. We work for the people,” he added.
On another matter, Abang Johari said he is aware that the current salary scale of state civil servants was not on par with their workload.
“I have instructed our State Secretary to evaluate and study this matter because we are all aware that the cost of living is increasing but the salary remains the same.
“But if we want to adjust the salary of civil servants in Sarawak, we have to refer to the pension scheme, so I have to find a solution to this.
“I will look into this matter, and I will settle this before I retire as the premier,” he said.
Also present were Deputy Premiers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohd Zuki Ali, Deputy Minister in the Premier’s Department (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Juanda Jaya, and State Secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki.