THREE Bills were passed during the second day of the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting yesterday.
The Bills, Natural Resources and Environment (Amendment) Bill, 2019; Sarawak State Library (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and the Sarawak Heritage Bill, 2019 were unanimously passed by acclamation.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan (GPS-Bukit Sari), in his winding-up speech when tabling the Natural Resources and Environment (Amendment) Bill, 2019, said that the Bill would be a twofer.
“Firstly, it is to enhance the provisions relating to penalties and powers of NREB for better enforcement of laws and a more effective deterrent to combat non-compliance of environmental laws in the state.
“Secondly, it is to expand the laws relating to open burning, particularly those related to commercial farming to facilitate better compliance with current environmental needs and practices,” he explained.
The Sarawak State Library (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was also approved, was aimed at amending the Sarawak State Library Ordinance, 1999 (Cap. 29), revealed Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip (GPS-Jepak).
“Specifically, the main objective of this Bill is to empower the Sarawak Multimedia Authority to take over the powers and the roles and functions previously being exercised and carried out by the State Information and Technology Resources Council under the Sarawak State Library Ordinance 1999 (Cap. 29),” he explained.
Both Bills were debated before they were passed, with Datuk Seri Huang Tiong Sii (GPS-Repok) participating in both debates.
On the Natural Resources and Environment (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Huang pointed out that it was crucial that the state’s resources and environment were preserved as they were among Sarawak’s sources of income.
“With that, there has to be a systematic management of the resources so Sarawak will remain protected.
“It is high time that we improve our management and administration on matters that pertain to natural resources and environment,” he added.
On the other Bill, Huang said that Sarawak’s public records were managed efficiently in accordance to the rules and standards provided so that the records and archives remained accessible and preserved.
“This is because records, documents and archives will be used as references and historical records for the next generation,” he added.
The Sarawak Heritage Bill, 2019, which was also tabled late yesterday, brought drama in the august House.
Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah (GPS-Asajaya) tabled the Bill yesterday.
The Bill was questioned by state opposition leader Chong Chieng Jen (PH-Kota Sentosa) who viewed that it was tabled at the expense of non-natives.
He explained that the Bill required non-natives to register themselves if they were to be involved in the sale of antiquities over 50 years old.
“This betrays the Chinese ultimately. While the state prides itself over its racial and religious tolerance, it is not fair that a Bill is tabled in the State Legislative Assembly for that purpose,” Chong explained during a press conference yesterday.
To much fanfare, the Bill was passed despite being opposed by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak coalition.