Pakatan Harapan to continue with devolution of power and decentralisation agenda

KUCHING, May 19 (Bernama) -- Pakatan Harapan (PH) will continue and remain committed with the devolution of power and decentralisation agenda for Sarawak, said Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

"As such it is not right to say that devolution of power is off," Chong said at a press conference here today.

Chong who is also Sarawak DAP chairman said the first set back to the devolution agenda was caused by the Sarawak BN refusing to sign the new deal agreement, thereby refusing to accept the full devolution of power in education and healthcare matters despite the fact that all finances for the running of these two ministries have been provided for in the additional 15 percent oil and gas royalties and 50 percent of all taxes collected in Sarawak.

"It seem that the Sarawak BN only wants money but without responsibilities. That is not devolution of power. That is irresponsibility," added Chong who is MP for Stampin.

However, Chong said Pakatan Harapan would still continue to explore other avenues of devolution of power including the setting up of the Special Cabinet Committee to study the other aspects of the devolution of power, which the Sarawak BN might be comfortable with.

As for the devolution of power in education and health care, Chong said the only way for Sarawak to acquire such authonomy will be to change the Sarawak government in the next state election which will be held latest in three years' time.

When asked why the devolution of power has to go through him (Chong) when whe state government can go direct to the federal government in Putrajaya, Chong said: "They can go ahead with that but at the end of the day it will come back to us."

On another issue, Chong said the second batch of the cabinet ministers will be announced soon by the prime minister.

He said the PH policy was to reduce the number of ministers in order to reduce cost, unlike the previous government having to pay salaries of non-performing ministers.

When pressed to answer if he don't doesn't mind if there was no minister at all from Satawak in the federal cabinet, Chong said: "Let the full cabinet be announced then we will take it from there."