KUCHING, Nov 21 — Baru Bian (PSB-Ba Kelalan) has no doubt that Sarawak will truly benefit from the passing of the historic Sarawak Ombudsman Bill 2023 if its well-drafted provisions are adhered to closely.
Recording his support for the Bill, he said establishing a statutory Ombudsman’s office in Sarawak to be called ‘Sarawak Ombudsman’ is a positive step towards ensuring better government, more efficient and transparent public agencies, and improved protection of the rights of the common person.
He said the current Office of Ombudsman, under the Integrity and Ombudsman Unit of the Chief Minister’s Department set up in 2018, was a good beginning and precedent, but moving the unit away from the Premier’s office and giving it a statutory standing offers a better perception of independence and impartiality which are crucial features of any Ombudsman body.
“Clause 11 and 12 of the Bill provides for the Powers and Functions of the Ombudsman. They are again well defined and exhaustive. After reading the details of these powers and functions of the Ombudsman, I can confidently say that these core values I referred to earlier are fully incorporated accordingly. For example, it is unlike the present federal government’s Public Complaints Bureau which was established under the Prime Minister’s Department, whose reports are not even tabled in Parliament. But our Sarawak Ombudsman’s reports shall annually be submitted to the Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) for debate as provided for under Clause 12(1)(f) and Clauses 42 & 44 of the Bill.
“And further under clause 42(3) of the Bill, a ‘Special Select Committee may be appointed upon a motion made under Standing Order of the DUN to consider any matter relating to the report raised in the DUN’. And under Clause 43(1)(a) subject to Clause 43(2), make public the said reports, the results of any enquiry carried out including any findings, recommendations and opinions.”
“In other words, the Sarawak Ombudsman is unlike the Public Complaints Bureau which is deemed a ‘toothless tiger’ but one with real power and authority,” he said when debating the Sarawak Ombudsman Bill 2023 at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) yesterday.
Baru congratulated Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan (GPS-Bukit Sari) for tabling this Ombudsman Bill, which is a historic chapter for the State Legislative Assembly for being the first to do so in Malaysia.
He said he had always been attracted to the idea of having an Ombudsman system in Malaysia.
He said his final year Diploma In Law Project Paper at ITM was in fact on this very subject ‘An Ombudsman System’ for Malaysia in 1985 and yesterday he was delighted to see this very idea materialised in his capacity as an assemblyman in Sarawak.
“The federal government was aiming to table the Ombudsman Malaysia Bill in Parliament last month, but we have not heard of any updates on it. There is no sign of it in the Bills listing in the Parliament website,” he said. — Borneo Post Online