Sunday, 31 January 2021

Giving all of our support to Sibu folks to stop spread of Covid-19

Our State Government is serious in giving all the support to our folks in Sibu and to meet the urgent treatment needs for Covid-19 patients there. Our Right Honourable Chief Minister, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Abang Haji Openg had announced recently that our state gov­ern­ment will pro­vide 10 ad­di­tional ven­ti­la­tors to Sibu Hos­pi­tal very soon to meet the demand for such equipment.

Cur­rently, there are only 3 ven­ti­la­tors avail­able and ad­di­tional ma­chines are now needed to meet the in­creas­ing num­ber of pos­i­tive cases in Sibu re­cently. Apart from that, Abang Jo said the state gov­ern­ment would add more quar­an­tine cen­tres there and the Sibu Di­vi­sion Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Com­mit­tee is also iden­ti­fy­ing such fa­cil­i­ties.

Such moves are aimed to im­prove the State government's ef­forts in curb­ing the spread of Covid-19, in­clud­ing in the as­pects of pro­vid­ing fa­cil­i­ties, quar­an­tine cen­tres and lo­gis­tics because according to the chief min­is­ter, the next 5 or 6 months period is crit­i­cal in bat­tling the pan­demic.
Abang Jo added the vac­cine is not a cure, it is just a preven­tion, to en­hance our an­ti­body to combat the virus. Thus, we still need to con­tain Covid19 cases within that time in Sarawak and in view of that, our Chief Minister had re­quested the dis­as­ter man­age­ment com­mit­tee in the var­i­ous di­vi­sions to find ways to im­prove the lo­gis­ti­cal con­nec­tion be­tween the quar­an­tine cen­tres and af­fected ar­eas with the state gov­ern­ment would bear the costs to be incurred.

It is challenging when there are Covid-19 pos­i­tive cases in the long­houses because the patients must be brought out to be quar­an­tined but is a big state and therefore the local authorities are fac­ing lo­gis­tic prob­lema. Nev­er­the­less, the Chief Minister had pointed out that we do not want these pa­tients to stay at the long­house be­cause it is very dan­ger­ous as it will in­fect the rest of the long­house folks there
Our State gov­ern­ment is also look­ing into com­bin­ing man­power among po­lice, mil­i­tary, Askar Wata­niah (Ter­ri­to­rial Army) and Rela to meet the short­age of manpower to enforce the movement restrictions in the affected areas. He had also em­pha­sised on the im­por­tance for our folks to giv­e their full co­op­er­a­tion and com­pli­ance with SOPs in order to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Giving back the power to voters to decide, we cannot deny their democratic rights

I disagree with the recent statement made by Democratic Action Party (DAP) Sarawak’s chairman Chong Chieng Jen who expressed his worry on our State GPS Government’s views on holding an election this year.  The State Government has always been fully aware of the present Covid-19 situation and our initiatives in tackling the pandemic had been widely recognised by the Ministry of Health (MoH) including the Director General, Tan Sri Noor Hisham himself.

It is unfair for YB Chong to accuse of the GPS government for being totally irresponsible in this matter because recently our Honourable Chief Minister, Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Abang Haji Openg had announced the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang 5.0 assistance packages amounting to RM405 million. The BKSS is being extended for another six months until June this year and it is aimed to help mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and will take the weight off people’s shoulders.

Apart from that, the State Government through our Sarawak’s Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) together with MoH and State Health Department had also enforced the strict compliance of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) among our local folks with the aim to inculcate awareness on the importance of curbing the spread of Covid-19 and tackling the issue head on.  The lifting of the Emergency is at the pleasure of the Duli Yang Maha Mulia Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the 12th State Election can only be held if the situation has improved while ongoing efforts are being made by SDMC to overcome the pandemic by tightening the existing SOPs.

YB Chong had also forgotten that we are merely the elected representatives for a 5-year term and we must go back to the voters after that because it is a democratic process which must be uphold and respected always. We cannot hold on to our present posts any longer than that or perhaps it is YB Chong who wants it that way.

Monday, 25 January 2021

My view on the possibility of Sarawak holding elections during present State of Emergency

Recently I have voiced out my disagreement on the views by constitutional law expert, Professor Datuk Shad Saleem Frauqi and the topic on the new law that may be needed if Sarawak holds elections while the State of Emergency is still being enforce.


I have said this because it was clearly stated in Section 13 of the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 with regards to Election of State Legislative Assembly. As long as the Emergency is in force, Section 13(a) of the Ordinance states that ‘the provisions relating to an election for the election to a State Legislative Assembly in the Eighth Schedule to the Federal Constitution, Constitution of  any State and any State Law shall have no effect.


I have also pointed out that Section 13(b) of the same Ordinance states that ‘an election for the election to the State Legislative Assembly shall be held on a date as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong thinks appropriate after consultation  with the respective Ruler or the Yang di-Pertua Negeri.


Therefore, I personally do not see the need for a new ordinance or law if we were to call for the next state election…if Sarawak wishes to have an early date (for election) before the expiry of the Emergency, the Chief Minister will have to bring up the matter to the Independent Special Committee to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (YDPA) and the YDPA will consult the Tuan Yang Terutama (TYT) Yang di-Pertua Negeri.


I was interviewed by our media friends on the recent report published by a local daily which quoted Prof Shad Saleem as saying the Yang di-Pertuan Agong would have to amend the existing ordinance within the Emergency period to allow Sarawak to have its state election this year.


Prof Shad Saleem was also quoted as saying that if the Emergency ends on Aug 1, the laws that suspended the elections will continue to be in force for another six months due to Article 150(7) of the Federal Constitution. It was mn my view, before Emergency ends and while Yang di-Pertuan Agong still has the power to consult with the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sarawak to order an election as soon as possible, he (Agong) has to amend the ordinance to allow election in the state. Prof Shad Saleem was also quoted by the media that during the Emergency, the provision in the Eight Schedule which states that an election must be held within 60 days of the dissolution of the State Legislative Assembly, has been suspended.


Last Friday, it was in our local media that Sarawak Cabinet members had discussed appealing to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to lift the Emergency Order in Sarawak if the Covid-19 situation in the state was brought to a manageable level. Our esteemed Deputy Chief Minister, Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing had also told Malaysia’s National News Agency (BERNAMA) that if the appeal was favourably considered, it would pave the way for the 12th state election as the term for the current State Legislative Assembly ends in June.

Friday, 22 January 2021

Thumbs up for Sarawakku Sayang Spe­cial As­sis­tance (BKSS 5.0)

We owe it to #GPS Sarawak Government which had allocated RM405 mil­lion for the Sarawakku Sayang Spe­cial As­sis­tance or BKSS 5.0 which was aimed to alleviate our people's plight in view of the Covid19 pandemic which had impacted the country and the local communities.

BKSS 5.0 is also proof of our govern­ment’s con­cern for the wel­fare of local folks and the as­sis­tance package is able to ease the Rakyat's bur­den in car­ry­ing on their daily lives, es­pe­cially dur­ing this trying times including the re­cent floods which hit many parts in Sarawak.

Among others, BKSS 5.0 will include good dis­counts on elec­tric­ity bills from 5 to 25% for do­mes­tic, com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial con­sumers from Jan­uary to June 2021. Dis­counts are also given to wa­ter bills that rang­ed from 10% to 25% as well as 50% dis­count on mar­ket and stall ren­tals which will welcomed by 10,000 local hawk­ers around Sarawak.

For home owners, the 25% dis­count on their as­sess­ment rates are most welcomed including the 50% rental dis­count for all Sarawak Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion ( HDC) hous­ing schemes. We also welcome the 30% land tax dis­count that would help over 52,400 res­i­den­tial, com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial cen­tres, large- scale farm­ing and other pub­lic facilities. To our local folks, the BKSS 5.0 is timely because some have looked it as another lifeline given by our state government to enable all of us to move on in 2021 despite the challenges commonly faced worldwide. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Kudos to hoteliers in Sibu to assist in providing quarantine facilities to authorities

Kudos to the owners and management of three local hotels in Sibu which have agreed in principle to use their premises as quarantine centres for Covid19 persons-under-surveillance (PUS).

The local hoteliers are from Sarawak Central Region Hotels Association and they would  be providing an additional 400 rooms that should be available to take in returnees from outside Sarawak when the movement control order (MCO) in Sibu is lifted.


Currently there are three hotels in Sibu that are being used by the relevant authorities as quarantine centres with a total of 309 rooms and they are namely Premier Hotel, Mawan Hotel and Sarawak Hotel.

With more hotels owners offering their hotels as quarantine centres in Sibu, the authorities  will have more accommodation facilities to use when eventually flights from outside Sarawak are resumed in the near future.

Currently, there are no flights into Sibu during the MCO period except for internal flights where PUS are people who returned to Sarawak via Sibu Airport and they are required to undergo 14 days of quarantine.

On same matter, the next two weeks will be crucial to determine if Sibu Division can curb the spread of Covid19 which is why the public must strictly comply with the Movement Control Order (MCO). 

The State Government through Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), State Health Department and Ministry of Health (MOH) need everyone of us to work together to curb the spread of the virus. In central zone itself, the authorities have recently locked down 19 longhouses in Pasai Siong area to curb the Covid19 from spreading locally.

Even though our local folks in the affected areas will not move about freely but it is also important for those without the disease not to come into close contact with them. It is therefore important to get our local folks to stay at home as much as possible and to comply with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) stipulated by the relevant authorities during these challenging times.


Friday, 15 January 2021

Calling on our local folks to be vigilant due to severe weather and flood conditions

In view of the present flood situation, our local folks were re­minded to be vig­i­lant through­out this week due to se­vere weather con­di­tions. In line with this, our Right Honourable Chief Minister has urged the peo­ple to be strong and pre­pared for evac­u­a­tion to tem­po­rary evac­u­a­tion cen­tres should their homes get in­un­dated, for their own safety. 

According to him, for this week the peo­ple will need to re­main vig­i­lant and wary of the sit­u­a­tion around them and at the same time, the flood vic­tims who were evac­u­ated to tem­po­rary evac­u­a­tion cen­tres were reminded to fol­low the stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures (SOP) to curb the spread of Covid19. Abang Johari said the process of evac­u­at­ing flood vic­tims to tem­po­rary flood evac­u­a­tion cen­tres in the state was closely mon­i­tored by the State Health De­part­ment and rel­e­vant agen­cies. 

That is why we are care­ful dur­ing the flood, and we do health screen­ing when the flood vic­tims were evacuated. When asked about spe­cial as­sis­tance for flood vic­tims, our Chief Minister said the state gov­ern­ment would con­sider the matter on the ad­vice by the State Disas­ter Man­age­ment Committee. On the num­ber of flood vic­tims in Kuching di­vi­sion, Abang Jo­hari said there were a to­tal of 2,268 flood vic­tims who had been placed at 30 tem­po­rary evac­u­a­tion cen­tres. Of that fig­ure, 1,949 were at 17 cen­tres in Kuching dis­trict while the re­main­ing 319 were at 13 cen­tres in Bau dis­trict.

Sarawak to abide the Emer­gency procla­ma­tion to curb the Covid-19 pan­demic

We echo what our Right Honourable Chief Min­is­ter's statement on Sarawak's state elec­tion that can be held as soon as the Emer­gency procla­ma­tion to curb the Covid-19 pan­demic is re­voked.

Datuk Pat­inggi Abang Jo­hari Tun Openg who was interviewed by our local media on this matter had expressed his con­fi­dence that Sarawak abides and re­spects the Yang di-Per­tuan Agong AlSul­tan Ab­dul­lah Ri’ay­atud­din AlMustafa Bil­lah Shah’s de­ci­sion, adding that the Emer­gency was made in ac­cor­dance with the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion.

How­ever, our Chief Minister had mentioned Sarawak would be able to con­duct the 12th State Elec­tion or PRN12 when the Covid-19 pan­demic in the state is brought un­der con­trol. If the sit­u­a­tion im­proves and the Agong is con­fi­dent that the sit­u­a­tion has im­proved, our Yang Dipertuan Agong can de­clare an­other procla­ma­tion which only in­volves cer­tain ar­eas (states) in Malaysia.

The Chief Minister had said the sharp in­crease in Covid-19 cases in Sarawak was due to the Pa­sai Clus­ter in Sibu, and if it could be stemmed, the pan­demic in the state would be un­der con­trol again. According to him, if we main­tain a high level of dis­ci­pline to com­ply with the SOPs (stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures) and it shows pos­i­tive de­vel­op­ment, the num­ber of cases will def­i­nitely be low­ered and hopefully after that, we can hold elec­tions. The cur­rent term of the Sarawak leg­isla­tive assem­bly will end on June 6, this year.

Monday, 4 January 2021

Thumbs up to recommendations for Pesta Kaamatan and Gawai Dayak harvest festivals to be in Cuti Cuti Malaysia itinerary

Thumbs up to efforts by Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) in supporting recommendations for Kaamatan and Gawai Dayak harvest festivals to be included as major festivals in the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia itinerary after good feedbacks received from the public. 

We support MOTAC's Minister, YB Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri who mentioned although Kaamatan and Gawai are public holidays for Sabah and Sarawak but it was important for people of other states to know and understand the culture and traditions behind these two festivals. 

Such initiative will positively shows us of Sabah and Sarawak openness towards every member of our plural society and the strong feeling of unity among the local folks. 

People from outside Borneo ought come and see for themselves the unique culture and tradition on how the harvest festivals are celebrated by the native groups in both states. By including Kaamatan and Gawai in the list of festive holidays, this would allow Malaysians to plan their holidays as well as embrace diversity in the country.

Road users should not take safety for granted

Local leaders including myself had constantly reminded our road users to always comply with safety measures outlined in the standard operating procedures (SOP) when using the ferry services that are available throughout the state. This is of utmost importance to prevent unwanted incidents from happening again in near futre.

We are aware that if the SOP or security measures are complied with and carried out properly, any untoward incidents or tragedies like the one happened at Triso-Sebuyau  Ferry point on new year's day. 

However, it had happened and many lives were lost in this accident, some of the victims were just teenagers and sadly a baby as well. I took the opportunity to extend my deepest condolences to the victim’s family, hoping that they would stay strong throughout this ordeal. 

What had happened was very sad for all Sarawakians because tragedy had claimed the lives of nine members of a family was also heartbreaking for all of us. I also urged the crowd not to rush things when using the ferry services apart from complying with the rules set by the relevant authorities there. I hope all of us have learned a valuable lesson from this tragedy so that to avoid similar tragedies from happening again in the future. We should not take safety for granted because prevention is always better than cure.