KUCHING, July 31 — The state government had shot down a suggestion by Putrajaya to take over the Sarawak local government for the purpose of streamlining it with the rest of the country, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg disclosed today.
Abang Johari said the suggestion was rejected as the local government is a state’s right and is safeguarded by the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“Those who made the suggestion were ignorant because they were new in the federal government. They just want to tell us that they are in power so they want to take over our local government,” Abang Johari told reporters after witnessing the swearing-in of 750 councillors from 24 local councils before the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) here.
The chief minister, however, declined to name who made the suggestion, but said that it was made when “they” paid a courtesy call to him.
“You know, they were the ones who suggested for local government election be held. See what happen now?” he said.
On the councillors taking their pledge before MACC for the first time in the history of the state local government, the chief minister said it is part of the good governance process.
“It started with the state Cabinet pledging for good governance. Therefore, the local government has to do likewise.
“This is what we call accountability and their responsibility is to discharge their public service duties,” he said, adding that councillors are entrusted to formulate local government policies for the benefit of the people in their areas.
Earlier in his speech, Abang Johari warned that if Pakatan Harapan (PH) wins the next state election, there is no guarantee that it would not amend the Federal Constitution to take control of the local government.
“We must defend our rights from being eroded, including the local government,” he said, reminding the people to be wary PH leaders who come to Sarawak with their sweet talk.
Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said the appointments of councillors were made after their names were scrutinised by a state Cabinet committee headed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah
He reminded the councillors that their first duty is to “make the people happy, not them happy”.
The councillors are from the four component parties of Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
Among those who took their pledge before MACC were Miri City mayor Adam Yii, Kota Samarahan Municipal Council chairman Datuk Peter Minos and Padawan Municipal Council chairman Lo Khere Chiang.
Three hundred and forty are new councillors while the rest are re-appointed, both for a two-year term, beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2021.