No tangible devolution of powers: Dr Yii

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No tangible devolution of powers: Dr Yii

KUCHING: There has been an overfocus on “form rather than substance” in the recent amendments to the State Constitution by adopting the word "premier

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KUCHING: There has been an overfocus on “form rather than substance” in the recent amendments to the State Constitution by adopting the word “premier” to substitute “chief minister” under Article 6(3), said Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.

He said without amendments to the Federal Constitution and no tangible devolution of powers to Sarawak under Schedule 9, the amendment to the State Constitution was merely cosmetic in nature.

“While I am fully supportive of giving due recognition to the special position that Sabah and Sarawak have under the Federation of Malaysia, such amendments must first and foremost show tangible contrast in terms of powers and authority in comparison to other states and constitutionally recognised under the Federal Constitution,” he said in his press statement yesterday.

While the Minister for Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts, Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah argued that the amendments were in accordance with the amendment to the Federal Constitution enforced last week, the title change was an after-thought or even an over-sight by the Federal Law Minister, Dr Yii said.

“If not amendments to Article 160 of Federal Constitution that refers to “chief Minister” or head of the executive in a state would also have been tabled in Parliament during the constitutional amendments of Article 1(2) and Article 160 back in November 2021.

“For the title ‘premier’ to be effectively more powerful vis-a-vis other states in Malaya, a Federal Constitution amendment must follow suit. He cannot just be known as a ‘premier’ in Sarawak but constitutionally outside Sarawak he is still of the same status protocol ranking as all other chief ministers or menteri besar,” he pointed out.

He urged the Federal Law Minister to correct this and give more substantive force to the amendments by tabling another Constitutional Amendment Bill in Parliament to give recognition to the title under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution, and more importantly, table an amendment to Schedule 9 to devolve or decentralise powers concentrated at the federal government first, including certain policy-making powers and fiscal powers, in order for Sabah and Sarawak to achieve more tangible autonomy.

“On top of that, I reiterate my call for the GPS federal ministers to formulate a ‘Power Devolution Blueprint’ for Sarawak to set a pathway for us to achieve greater decentralisation of powers and autonomy.

“This plan should outline key milestones within the next five to 10 years along with a periodic review of the progress made to prepare us to take on the responsibility.

“It should also outline the strategies that Sarawak will employ to develop human capital within the state to meet the unique challenges,” he said.