KUCHING, Jan 6 — Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Women wing today praised the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) chairman Tan Sri Dr Kamal Mat Salih for stepping down as Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) board chairman, following a widespread criticisms in Sarawak.
“I respect and appreciate him in understanding the wishes of the people in Sarawak and therefore vacating the position on his own accord,” the wing’s chief Kho Teck Wan said when asked to comment on Kamal’s resignation.
According to The Malaysian Insight, Kamal were to submit his letter of resignation to the director-general of the higher education this afternoon.
He took over the post of Unimas board chairman five days ago, from Tan Sri Sulong Matjeraie, for a three-year term.
Kho called on the federal education ministry to return the board chairmanship to a well-qualified Sarawakian, only after consultation with the Sarawak state government.
“We will continue to fight against any erosion of our autonomy and protect Sarawak, culturally, economically and politically,” she said.
Kho criticised Sarawak Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmakers for being silent on Kamal’s appointment, saying that their failure to voice out showed their inability and fear of making any decision that is against the federal government.
State Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo,meanwhile, said Kamal is a gentleman and wishes him all the best in his future undertakings.
“Sarawakians salute him. With his impressive credentials he will be an asset to whichever university in Peninsular Malaysia which wants to get him,” she said.
After his appointment was published in the media, Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office issued a statement to express the state government’s regret that it was not consulted over the Kamal’s appointment by the federal government.
The CMO had said the state government would further clarification from the federal government on the appointment.
“It is regrettable that the appointment of Tan Sri Kamal Salih has not been referred to the Sarawak government,” the CMO had said, adding that the Unimas board chairman had always been appointed after consultation with the state government.
It had said the consultation had always been adhered to since the appointment of the first chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Bujang Mohd Nor, second chairman Datu Dr Hatta Solhi and the third chairman Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Sulong Matjeraie,” the CMO said.
Sulong, a former Federal Court Judge, had his three-year term cut short on December 20, 2019.
It was set to expire on April 30, 2021. He was appointed for a three-year term on May 1, 2018.
Kamal is set to serve for a period of three years starting January 1, 2020 until December 31, 2022.
Kamal, an economist, policy advisor, academic administrator and politician,was to be the first non-Sarawakian to be appointed to the post.