‘Self-rule’ crucial amidst Covid-19

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the concept of being autonomous in terms of decision making was instrumental in Sarawak’s fight against Covid-19.

He pointed out that ‘self-rule’ was significant, especially when implementing policies made at the federal level.

“We will respect the federal government and the decisions made at federal level, but not every decision made in Putrajaya is suitable for implementation in Sarawak.

“During the pandemic, we appreciate the powers that we have under the constitution to make decisions so that the policies can be more practical and effective when implemented here.

“The ability to make our own decisions allows us to be on par with other more developed countries,” he said in his Sarawak Day message.

Abang Johari said Sarawak was a region almost as big as Malaya and had its challenges in terms of resources and infrastructures.

“So, it is difficult for the authorities to implement the decisions made at the federal level. One example is that we had to make modifications to the Covid-19 vaccine rollout to the rural dwellers.

“We had allowed a ‘jab first, register later’ concept where we understood the inconvenience for those staying in longhouses and villages to access MySejahtera.

“The power to make decisions that are suitable to Sarawak allows us to take steps to ensure the vaccine rollout is expedited in the state,” he said.

In noting that this year’s Sarawak Day was celebrated in the new normal due to Covid-19, Abang Johari said it should not dampen the spirit of Sarawakians to commemorate the historical event.

“Sarawak has been under the rule of a foreign power for more than 100 years under the Brooke administration.

“On July 22, 1963, Sarawakians were given the power to self-rule with the Union Jack flag being lowered and the last British Governor, Sir Alexander Waddell stepping down without any bloodshed.

“This resulted in the appointment of Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan as the first chief minister and my father, Tun Abang Openg as the first Governor. Both were Sarawakians,” he said.