Let Sulong Matjeraie stay on as Unimas head, PPB veep tells Putrajaya

Abdul Karim opined that Sulong has performed well as Unimas chairman. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie
Abdul Karim opined that Sulong has performed well as Unimas chairman. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Jan 15 — Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) vice president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah today urged the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government to re-appoint Tan Sri Sulong Matjeraie as Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) board chairman.

He said Sulong should be allowed to complete his term after the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) chairman Tan Sri Dr Kamal Mat Salih tendered his resignation within days after he took over as Unimas chairman.

“Sulong has performed pretty well as Unimas chairman. I was totally surprised why his term was abruptly terminated when he still has more than a year left,” Karim, who is also the state Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister, said when commenting on Sulong’s termination and Kamal’s appointment as his successor.

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, set to serve for a period of three years starting January 1, 2020 until December 31, 2022, however, tendered his resignation from the post early this month.

The Sarawak Chief Minister’s Office expressed its regret that the state government was not consulted by the federal government on Kamal’s appointment.

Karim praised Kamal for not accepting the appointment after taking into account dissenting views in Sarawak, with some saying that the post was normally held by a Sarawakian.

“It must not be the issue the person holding the post must be a Sarawakian, but then the person (Sulong) is a nice and capable person.

“So why can’t the federal government let him complete his term since he has got more than one year left,” he said.

“If there is a serious disciplinary or character problem, then maybe there is ground for the federal government to terminate him, but there is none that we know of, ” he added.

He stressed that after Sulong has completed his term, it is up to the appointing authority whether to extend his tenure or find someone else.

Karim also expressed his disappointment that the state government was not consulted by the Education Ministry in the appointment of Kamal as Unimas chairman.

He said the state government is usually consulted for certain posts, like the state Police Commissioner and Unimas board chairman, where the appointing authorities are the federal ministries or the federal government.

“All this while, there has always been a good consultation. That is how it is. I do hope that this convention is to be followed.

“It has been going on for years. This is how federalism should work, even though we may be from different sides,” he said, referring to the state government under Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and federal government is under PH.

“I know Kamal. There is nothing wrong with him. But is Sulong a bad man? Is there any problem with Sulong?” he asked.

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