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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Consult us first, Sarawak DCM tells Federal Government

This way, both the federal and state governments can avoid 'shooting ourselves in the foot', says Douglas Uggah
KUCHING - Like it or not, certain national issues will affect the voting patterns of Sarawak voters, said state Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas.

In an exclusive interview with FMT, Uggah said this was why it would be wise for the Federal Government to consult the state leaders before implementing laws and policies for which the people of Sarawak might not be ready.

“Some issues that are of interest to the people (Sarawakians), it’s better and it’s wise that the state be consulted first.

“(This is) so we can explain to them our (the Federal Government’s) position.

“Then we can avoid shooting ourselves in the foot,” he said.

Uggah was referring to the latest commotion surrounding the nationwide implementation of the tourism tax, which had put the federal minister in charge of tourism, Nazri Aziz, under the spotlight.

His Sarawak counterpart Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said that Nazri, by denying the state government a chance to weigh in on the tax, had gone against the spirit of partnership between Sarawak, Sabah, and Malaya, as outlined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Earlier, Karim had said both Sarawak and Sabah would jointly make a request to Finance Minister Najib Razak to defer the implementation of the tourism tax to next year.

Meanwhile, Uggah reminded the Federal Government of past events that were shown to work in favour of Sarawak.

These included the Federal Government’s position on the proposed amendments to the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), which seeks to increase the Islamic courts’ punitive powers.

“You can see how it was done when they tried to table Act 355. This was where a very extensive consultation was done, and the top leaders felt they must take notice of this issue.

“So if we continue to consult one another, that will be very much appreciated by the people,” Uggah said.

The bill to amend Act 355 was brought to the Dewan Rakyat as PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s private member’s bill.

In March, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the federal government would take over and table the bill instead.

But after a collective objection from Sarawak BN leaders, Najib, who is also the prime minister and BN chairman, told the media that it would remain a private member’s bill. Others, too, had objected to the bill.

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