Hornbill Unleashed

June 27, 2017

State PKR endorses joint Sabah-Sarawak initiative but warns of pitfall

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:03 AM

Image result for NCR land issues see chee howPKR Sarawak welcomes the decision by Sarawak and Sabah on a joint Sabah-Sarawak tourism tax memorandum to be presented to Putrajaya.

However, PKR Sarawak vice chairman See Chee How warned of a potential pitfall in that it could be ‘a small step forward but many big steps backward’ as there is the risk of sacrificing the autonomous and constitutional rights of the two states.

“Of foremost importance is for Sarawak and Sabah to jointly make a representation to Putrajaya and Parliament to annul and revoke Section 45 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act 1994 to remove ‘Tourism’ as an item in the Federal List,” See, who is Batu Lintang assemblyman said yesterday.

He pointed out that Article 77 of the Federal Constitution provides that any matter not enumerated in any of the lists (federal, state or concurrent) set out in the Ninth Schedule, the state legislature shall have powers to make laws.

In this respect, See explained that the power to legislate is vested in the state assemblies of Sarawak and Sabah.

“Section 45 of the said 1994 Amendment Act (A885) which was in force from June 24 (incidentally 23 years ago, yesterday) is unconstitutional because the power of the Sarawak and Sabah state assemblies cannot be taken away from them without their prior consent.

“With respect, it is wrong to say that the amendment in 1994 was proper and legitimate because the Sarawakian and Sabahan members of parliament had voted for it.

“Quite simply, the MPs were not clothed with the power which has been vested solely with the state legislatures of Sarawak and Sabah.”

See opined that Sarawak and Sabah should not submit meekly to the federal government on this matter, because it concerns the autonomous and constitutional rights of Sarawak and Sabah.

“If we concede ‘Tourism’ as an item in the Federal List, Sarawak and Sabah will not be able to reclaim those rights that we have lost or taken away from us, and we will lose or concede more in similarly.

“The placement of a subject matter as an item in whichever Legislative List of the Ninth Schedule also determine whether it is the state or the federal that has the power to levy taxes and rates, and whether the revenues and moneys raised or received shall be paid into the Federal Consolidated Fund or the State Consolidated Fund of Sarawak and Sabah.”

With regards to matters which are items in the State List, Concurrent Lists and those that are residual, See said the federation may suggest and pass laws to promote uniformity of laws in all the states but such laws shall only come into operation after they are adopted by laws made by the state legislative assemblies.

“It follows that revenues and moneys receivable from taxes and rates to be levied on subject matters which are outside the Federal List should go to the State Consolidated Fund after the respective state legislative assemblies have passed their state laws to raise and receive those levies.

Hence, I support the suggestion by Sabah that the two East Malaysian states must meet to deliberate and clarify on the key issues with regards the Tourism Tax Bill 2017 and come out with a joint stand, with the two East Malaysian states contributing ideas and proposals to fine-tune the provisions of the enactment.

” However, See reminded the two state governments that they are obligated to look after the interests and rights of all Sarawakians and Sabahans, and that include the safeguarding all of the states’ autonomous and constitutional powers and rights which are enshrined under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and all those reports and papers culminating to the birth of the Federation.

“Sabah and Sarawak should be steadfast in insisting that there will be no implementation and imposition of the Tourism Tax on July 1 and not until the Sarawak and Sabah state assemblies have passed their respective state ordinances authorising the levy of the Tourism Tax.”

On the question that the Sarawak Government had suggested to the federal government that the tourism tax raised in Sarawak to be given to Sarawak for the promotion of Sarawak tourism, See said that such suggestion is lacking in details and expressed his reservations that it may be impractical or even counterproductive.

“It is my understanding that, though there had been no direct federal grants to Sarawak Ministry of Tourism for tourism promotion, Sarawak has always been vigilant and successful in bidding for funds for tourism related activities including promotion of tourism overseas.

These funds were and are given out by federal agencies.”

See said he supported the call by Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah that federal funds should be granted to Sarawak directly, instead of disbursements though agencies.

“However, what were the amounts given to us through the agencies?” See cautioned that the state’s revenue collection from the tourism tax as proposed by the federal government may be smaller than the aggregate of such amounts received from the agencies.

He said: “Then we are walking into a trap laid out by the federal government, that there will be no more federal grants, either directly or coming through the agencies.

We will be worse off, and Sarawak has to face the wrath of all those in the tourism industry, and visiting tourists.”

See said since Sarawak’s contribution to the federal coffer is substantial, the state government should tell Putrajaya to turn the allocations through the agencies into an annual federal grant for Sarawak.

Source : The Malay Mail Online



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