Community leaders post to stay

Abang Johari (centre) with (from fifth left) Awang Tengah, Uggah, Jaul and Dr Annuar along with community leaders. Photo: Sarawak Public Communications Unit

SIBU: Sarawak will maintain its administrative system in which community leaders such as temenggong, pemanca, penghulu and tuai rumah are appointed as ‘frontliners’ to disseminate information on government policies to the people.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg noted that the post of community leaders had been established since the colonial times in Sarawak.

“Other states do not have these posts of temenggong, pemanca, penghulu, and tuai rumah. Sarawak has had these since the Brooke colonial times and we continue to maintain these positions even when we achieved independence.

“This is a system of administration where there is interaction between the government and community,” he said.

He was addressing a community dinner here last Wednesday during which, 242 community leaders received their appointment certificates.

He said community leaders are people respected by the community and they would also become frontliners for the government to disseminate information on government policies.

Abang Johari said the state government opposed the concept of the Village Community Management Council (MPKK) by the previous federal government because Sarawak’s unique administration had to be protected.

“Sarawakians know how to govern Sarawak,” he emphasised.

At the same time, he said that the uniqueness of Sarawak’s culture and harmony had to be protected — “That is why we develop Sarawak according to our own mould; do not follow other people’s mould.”

He pointed out that Sarawak is very inclusive of all religions and backgrounds, as exemplified by the construction of the RM70 million Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) Complex in Kuching.

He said he had also recently officiated at the earth-breaking ceremony of a RM10 million mosque in Belaga which had been requested by Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Lagang, who is not a Muslim.

“This would never happen in Malaya — we would not see non-Muslims requesting for a mosque to be built for the Muslim community,” he said.

He said certain quarters are still fighting for the position of Prime Minister, even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“But we in Sarawak are having meetings for the people’s affairs, not fighting for power,” said Abang Johari.

Also present were Deputy Chief Ministers Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion, Assistant Minister of Local Government and Housing Dr Annuar Rapaee and Sibu Resident Charles Siaw.