When Tan Sri Adenan Satem took office slightly two years ago, one of the things he probably saw not quite right was the way federal funded development projects was managed in Sarawak.
Earlier this year, the Sarawak chief minister raised this and other issues in what he called “the first stage” of the state’s autonomy road plan with Putrajaya.
He came home an elated man having managed to secure administrative empowerment in 13 areas.
What it simply meant was where there are duplication of administrative powers between Putrajaya and the state, these powers are to be delegated to the state government.
One good example was the development projects handled by the Public Works Department.
Prior to the agreement, the Works Ministry, federal JKR’s decisions and their hold on the purse strings while reducing state JKR to mere supervisory role, had been a sore point for years.
Now the Works Ministry and the federal JKR would have to hand over log, stock and barrel all aspects in the implementation and monitoring of federal funded projects in the state to Sarawak government and state JKR.
Sarawak, therefore, has the final say in determining the location of schools for example, hospitals, and the implementation of other development projects.
Following the blow-up and ramifications from the “indecently mind-blowing” corruption scandal in the Sabah Water Department, now some Sabah lawmakers from both sides of the political divide are demanding the same administrative autonomy Sarawak had wrung from Putrajaya
Its Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun said the scandal justified the need for decentralisation of decision-making power to the state while Opposition Bingkor state assemblyman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan in echoing similar sentiment, said the seizure by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) of more than RM114 million from the director and deputy director’s office and homes has “fully justified our calls for administrative reforms in the workings of the federal-funded development projects in Sabah as well the channelling of all development funds to the Sabah government for implementation”.
Masidi was quoted as saying “the problem is that the state department doesn’t have power to monitor and even doesn’t have a say in deciding how the contracts are to be awarded”.
He said everything was decided in Kuala Lumpur, and “I want to put it on record that I have said in many, many, many occasions that I have advocated decentralisation of decision-making process”.
Kitingan, in adding his voice to the demand said whatever had been practised in the past, “there is no justification whatsoever for the federal government to approve and implement federal projects in Sabah and ignore the Sabah government and not channel the funds to the Sabah government”.
The younger brother of the state’s deputy chief minister Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan was blunt when he said the federalisation of projects must stop.
“There are no two ways about it. The federal government is usurping the authority of Sabah and creating a parallel government in the process.”
Kitingan is also demanding all duplicating federal departments and agencies be withdrawn immediately and their duties handed over to their Sabah counterparts.
There is also one sore point which had irked Sabah opposition for years – how they decide on a project.
Kitingan said the federal government “should not play politics with federal funds and try to leverage the decision of award of projects and use of the development funds”.
These funds, he pointed out, belong to the people and the Umno/BN government is merely the government of the day and trustees and custodians of these funds.
Kitingan wants no more excuses and said the Sabah government should insist on the administrative and funds management reforms as well as devolution of powers.
“If not, the lack of coordination will allow the loophole and abuse to be continued and exploited by the federal government and federal leaders. Transparency, accountability and good governance in Sabah should be the rule of the day.”
Source : Laja Lang@The Heat Malaysia Online