Convene proper DUN sitting to discuss pandemic

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has been urged to convene a proper State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Sitting to debate and discuss the Covid-19 management and operations instead of holding a briefing for assemblypersons on Sept 9.

Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen said he had received a notice from the DUN secretary that there would be a briefing for assemblyman by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) on the Covid-19 management and operations.

“With the present Covid-19 pandemic threatening the lives and livelihood of all Sarawakians, the government, by merely holding a briefing instead of a proper DUN Sitting, is taking the matter too lightly and not serious about it,” he said in a Facebook post on Saturday (Sept 4).

He said a briefing has no force of law, hence issues affecting all Sarawakians cannot be raised by the state assemblyman. Therefore ministers in charge of the matter can easily avoid answering questions or deflect responsibilities on issues regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chong pointed out that there were several issues that needed to be addressed in a proper DUN Sitting.

Among them, he said, was the need to address the huge spike in new cases and increase in the Covid-19 related deaths in Sarawak despite the fact that more than 80 percent of Sarawakians have been vaccinated.

“Besides that, what are the reasons why Sarawak recorded the most Delta variance as compared to all other States in Malaysia?” he asked.

He also said the sitting needed to address how the government was going to effectively resolve the overcrowding issues in all the Covid-19 testing centres which were becoming potential clusters.

“Also, why, after more than one year into the pandemic, the state government is still caught unprepared of late on the outbreak resulting in a huge shortage of quarantine centres for those PUIs and close contacts?

“How effective are the quarantine orders on those close contacts in containing the spread of the Covid-19, especially those subject to home quarantine?” heasked.

He further said the DUN Sitting needed to address how much should the state government allocate as economic stimulus packages in order to save business and livelihood of the people and to revive the state’s economy.

Given the closures of markets and the no dine-in order in the Southern Region, he said there was a need to address how much in total the government should allocate to help the affected hawkers and small businesses.

“These are all very pertinent issues to save lives and livelihoods of the people in Sarawak which cannot be fully deliberated and discussed in a mere briefing. 

“It involves government general policies, strategies and allocation of funds from the Consolidated Fund of the state government and thus must be fully debated and approved in a proper DUN Sitting.

“I thus call upon the government to convene a proper DUN sitting instead of just having a briefing so that the management and operation of the Covid-19 pandemic can be properly discussed and ministers held accountable thereof,” said Chong.