Sarawak scout’s founding member moots autonomy for movement

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — The Sarawak scout movement is the latest group to advocate greater autonomy for its members in the Borneo state.

Tan Sri Safri Awang Zaidel, former Sarawak chief scout commissioner and a founding member of the Scout Foundation of Sarawak, has called for decentralisation to spur greater growth for the state movement, The Borneo Post reported today in its Sunday edition.

“We can seek a consensus from scout bodies from other states to gang up and ask for autonomy and then we do not have to refer to KL ― for instance on the appointment of commissioners,” he was quoted as saying, referring to the federal scout headquarters based in Kuala Lumpur.

“KL can reject our recommendation and appoint someone else whom they believed can be the commissioner and this is not good for the local movement.”

Safri Awang added that there had been land that went undeveloped because despite it being owned by the scouts, it was controlled by the movement’s federal officials in the peninsula.

“The other example is land in Sarawak, supposedly owned by the scout movement here but is actually owned by headquarters in KL ― like the land in Batu Lintang, the camp in Matang and a few other lands.

“If we have the autonomy then these lands will belong to us and the state scout movement here can develop it themselves,” he was quoted saying.

Sarawakians have been pushing for self-rule in recent years, with the prevailing sentiment that issues within the state should be decided by its people rather than officials based in the peninsula whom they believe to be unfamiliar with native customs.

The call for greater decentralisation has also been taken up by the state Barisan Nasional (BN) government, led by state anchor party Parti Pesaka Bumiputera under the leadership of its president and Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

The state is seeking autonomy in matters relating to prosecution for criminal offences under state laws, education, finances, shipping, public works, environment, sports, shipping, health, welfare, tourism, fisheries, heritage and housing, among others.

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