Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Sharing my views on possibility for Sarawak’s State Election to be held after August

Today I have told our media friends that I’m all for the possibility of Sarawak’s State Election to be held after August because as an elected state assemblyman, I refuse to stay in power without the people’s mandate.

Frankly, I don’t think I want to stay on as a “wakil rakyat” without the mandate from the people because they have the right to determine who should be the government. It’s a fact that the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition was given five years to rule as government, and that period has expired on June 6 which is over a month ago.

But we must understand with the declaration of a state of Emergency in Malaysia that took precedence over all written laws, the term of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) was extended until the last day of the emergency on Aug 1.

Now that the federal government has revealed its Cabinet’s consensus not to advise the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for an extension of the Emergency Order, the State Election should not be deferred further as well.

This is my personal opinion, but it’s anybody’s guess. I read in the news that quite a number of politicians, whether from the government or opposition, have requested for the elections to be postponed further. But, we must understand the rights of citizens. This is a parliamentary right. For us in the GPS-led government, we do not want to hold onto power on the pretence of the emergency due to a pandemic.

In my response to those who are opposed for an election being held during the pandemic, I have questioned whether Sarawak was in a condition where it is menaced by a serious health threat depicted as one of the criteria for an emergency declaration, when the public is allowed to drive on the streets, shop for groceries and dine in restaurants.

I have also mentioned to our media friends for Covid-19 to continue become a part of everyone’s lives in the years to come, thus it is only right to hold elections with strict standard operating procedure (SOP) and proper restrictions.

There’s nothing to fear. I believe Malaysians, as well as Sarawakians have already adapted to the Covid-19 situation. If Covid-19 is going on for another five years, are we going to postpone it (State Elections) that long?. On the popular predictions on the date for the state elections to begin, it could be in late September, the earliest perhaps, as many preparation works need to be done by the Election Commission (EC) which cannot be completed within a month’s time.

Looking forward to the forthcoming “Southeast Asia Youth Mental Health Conference 2021” on July 31

Our Ministry of Youth and Sports (MYSS) together with the Social Community Programmes Urban Society (SCORPUS) Malaysia will be organising the “Southeast Asia Youth Mental Health Conference 2021” on July 31 via online webinars.

The conference’s theme is “Breaking the Mental Health Issues Stigma in ASEAN Amid Pandemic” and it is on from 8am to 4pm, with a half-hour break from 1pm to 1.30pm.

It is heartening to see that there are over 300 participants from Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei and Indonesia are expected to tune in to the webinar, where nine invited guests will present their research and opinions on mental health, psychology, youth counselling and Covid-19.

The local panel members include Dr Nurashikin Ibrahim who is Head of Mental Health and Public Physician in Ministry of Health (MOH), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) psychiatrist, Dr Bernard Ting Chuong Hock, Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) psychiatrist, Dr Ng Boon Seng and International Islamic University Malaysia psychiatrist, Dr Mohd Faiz Md Tahir.

We have also invited speakers from Indonesia who include Dr Eqachseryanti Zain, a psychiatrist at Hospital Samarinda, counselling psychologist Charlene Lucas from the Philippines, UKCP Accredited Therapist psychotherapist, Rachel An Vu (Vietnam), professional counsellor Dr Rusli Bujang from Brunei, and Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health associate consultant, Dr Oon Li Keat.
Of course we are also inviting all local youths including those from Sarawak to join this conference which is still open for registration until Friday (July 30) and participation is still open to the public. Those interested by contacting the ministry’s conference secretariat at 082-495555 on first come first serve basis.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Calling on our Federal Government to relook into the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974


Recently I have spoken my views on issues pertaining to our country’s oil and gas, especially the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974 and for the Federal government to relook into this matter.

I thank our media friends who had seek my views on this matter and that what has been agreed when we formed Malaysia or when the Petroleum Development Act (PDA) 1974 was passed cannot be static.

If we look at the royalty percentage that Sarawak is getting now, which is a meagre 5%, is just pittance compared to what the federal government and Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas) are taking.

The development gap between Malaya and the Borneon states of Sarawak and Sabah which had helped formed Malaysia, this has made many citizens in the two states question why they are still so far behind in terms of infrastructure development, schools, hospitals, roads, ports, etcetera.

Therefore, I had voiced out my full agreement that we need a relook into these matters. 

I also fully agreed to the views made by constitutional law expert, Professor Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi’s pertaining to the oil and gas issues which the Federal government must resolve issues of petroleum, oil and gas rights as well as rights over resources in the Continental Shelf of Sabah and Sarawak.

Prof Shad had mentioned this issue during the live webinar held by The Sarawak Initiatives (TSI) on July 24 and that the Federal government must resolve the oil and gas disputes with Sabah and Sarawak to prevent a larger and more complicated crisis.

According to him, even though this issue is a bone of contention, he expressed the view that in a federal system of government, the Federal government should be open to discussion and to (constitutional) amendment.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Getting excited with Sarawak Day celebrations on July 22

Our local folks are getting excited with the forthcoming Sarawak Day celebration which is on July 22 and a small do is being organised at our State Assembly Building (DUN) where it will televised via Facebook and YouTube channels by Unit Komunikasi Awam Sarawak or UKAS.

According to the organizing committee, this year's celebration is done on modest scale in view of the present Covid19 situation and it is also subjected to the strict standard operating procedures (SOP) which stipulates that only 100 guests were invited to attend.

All of us had been cordially invited to follow this live broadcast to support the celebration of this historic event because July 22 is regarded as important because in 2016, our former Chief Minister of Sarawak, the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem, had declared it a public holiday to commemorate the history of Sarawak which was free from colonial rule.

It is also to commemorate the date when the last British Governor, Sir Alexander Waddell had symbolically handed over the administration of the state to the local people in 1963. Together we are celebrating Sarawak Day because it is a historic event for Sarawakians where all of us are taking time to reflect the sacrifices of all the past leaders and freedom fighters of our beloved state.

Unity among multi-racial and multi-religious communities in Sarawak is important in creating a peaceful, stable state and nation. Efforts to unite the people through the strengthening of racial integration in our state and country must also be maintained to safeguard the well-being of future generations.

In the context of Sarawak, the commitment to pursue this unity agenda is very important to ensure development and progress because we had always given the priority to sustain the well-being and sustainable development of society. Together we continue to stand firm, united and to move forward. #kitangitu #sarawak #kitajagakita

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Thumbs up to MSN Sarawak for organising online webinar on "Inner Potential For Motivation" for our athletes and coaches

Kudos to the Sarawak State Sports Council (MSN Sarawak) and Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) for organizing a webinar entitled "Inner Potential For Motivation" for 90 athletes, 10 coaches and 6 sports officials.

The webinar is being held online via zoom and conducted by Puan Nurulisa Poli, a Biscounselor at the National Entrepreneurship Institute (INSKEN), Miri. The event is on 17 - 18 July from 8.30 am - 4.30 pm and the participants involved are from Petanque, Lane Bowling, Golf, Archery, Basketball and Cricket.

We hope for this event will provide participants with better understanding on the attributes of potentials and internal motivation, as well as to identify the factors that influence mental and athletic performance. It can also help the participants better understand their personal goals in sports and education to maintain a level of motivation as well as to identify their inner potentials through their character and personality.

Consistent engagements with our local athletes and their coaches are important to boost their morale as well as to uplift their spirits while preparing for the forthcoming 2022 Malaysia Games (Sukma) which will be held in Johor.


Friday, 16 July 2021

Thumbs up to STB for their "Sarawak Tourism Virtual Product Update (B2B)"

Kudos to our Sarawak Tourism Board for kicking off its first virtual B2B event with the organising of its inaugural "Sarawak Tourism Virtual Product Update (B2B)" on July 14 to 15.

The two-day virtual update is aimed to serve as a platform that connect 30 sellers mainly from Sarawak’s travel and tour services sector, with over 200 buyers from West Malaysia and Sabah. I take my hats off for the event which had given good opportunity for all tourism stakeholders to realign their efforts to recover from a decelerated tourism industry in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.

I am certain that this will be a very fruitful event for those who are attending the virtual event and for those of us who are familiar with Sarawak tourism, it is an opportunity to deepen our working relationships and help to innovate our local tourism products on the national landscape. I do hope that participants would take full advantage of the event to gain a perfect market fit or even formularise a new tourism product strategy in anticipation of a post-pandemic future.

In my opening speech, I have mentioned that the virtual updates offer not only a solution to a problem but an opportunity for growth to those concerned. Although buyers may not be meeting sellers in person but virtual events offer a host of other advantages because all parties will have the opportunity to have more meaningful conversations, the chance to broaden their reach into untapped markets. Essentially, the event will enable us to follow up more effectively on potential clients and sellers.

It is heartening for us to see that throughout the two-day event there were over 200 buyers including those from West Malaysia and Sabah have direct access to the 30 sellers’ company brochures, a list of tour images, and a brief description of their company’s profile. Apart from that, the B2B platform also includes features such as chat and video calls to allow buyers and sellers to exchange ideas and also set up an appointment for tourism-related plans in the near future.

It is a job well done for STB with their most recent effort in its ongoing mission to promote Sarawak as a must-visit CANFF destination, especially in preparation for when the domestic tourism industry reopens. Despite the challenges resulted by the pandemic, STB had initiated other campaigns to support the local tourism sector, such as the "Sia Sitok Sarawak" campaign, Sarawak Tourism Online Ecosystem Fund and the Visitors Incentive Package (VIP) incentives.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Welcoming Phase 2 of National Recovery Plan (NRP) in Sarawak with open arms

The folks in Sarawak had welcomed the announcement of our state entering Phase 2 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP) which starts on 14 July and certainly we can ex­pect the re­open­ing of more econ­omy sec­tors, as long as they re­main fully com­pli­ant with the Covid-19 stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures (SOP).

I have mentioned this to our media friends during my recent working visit to Miri and I have also re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of strict ad­her­ence to the SOP in flat­ten­ing the Covid-19 curve. We have ac­knowl­edged the peo­ple's concern when the oper­a­tions of many eco­nomic sec­tors have been forced to close tem­po­rar­ily to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Syukur alhamdullilah, un­der Phase 2 of the NRP many sec­tors would grad­u­ally re­open in­clud­ing the con­struc­tion sites but we continue to call upon the peo­ple to re­main vig­i­lant through­out this pan­demic period.

I was in Miri for day trip to grace the "Ziarah Belia" program at Kampung Bakam in Lambir which is a good youth engagement and road­show pro­gram that fo­cus­es on closer en­gage­ment with the young generation at grass­roots level.

The main purpose of organising the program by Ministry of Youth and Sports is essentially getting in touch and reach our to  the youths in ev­ery district across Sarawak even though the planned ac­tiv­i­ties were un­able to be car­ried out due to the prevailing Covid-19 situation. 

But we take our hats off to our local youths in Sarawak who are still ac­tively in­volved in var­i­ous com­mu­nity works and their involvement dur­ing this time of the pan­demic is much welcomed especially when they can come for­ward to become our front­lin­ers.

Kudos to MYSS who had collaborated with our Sarawak United National Youth Organization (SABERKAS) in giving away ‘Covid-19 Sup­port Packs’ to those in Bekenu, Pi­asau, Pu­jut, Se­nadin, Marudi and Te­lang Usan branches, 11 of its units in Lam­bir, as well as two lo­cal youth clubs and six local bad­minton clubs.

The pre­sen­ta­tion of the support packs include mini ther­mome­ters, a box of face masks, a box of la­tex gloves and a box of hand sani­tis­ers in which the distribution was con­ducted via "drive-thru", where the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of each re­ceiv­ing body picked up the items as they drove past the Kampung Bakam com­mu­nity hall.

Big thanks to those who had accompanied me during the distribution ceremony which include YB Ripin Lamat, the Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) for N62 Lambir, YB Dennis Ngau, the ADUN for N77 Telang Usan, YB Safiee Ahmad, the ADUN for N43 Daro and YB Lukanisman Awang Sauni, the Member of Parliament for N218 Sibuti.

Also present were our acting Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Youth and Sports Sarawak, Puan Nancy Haji Jolhi and Dr Ong Kong Swee, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC).

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Giving our full support to Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s appointment as our new Deputy Prime Minister (DPM)

We fully support Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s appointment as our new Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) which is a good move made by Prime Minister, Yang Amat Berhormat Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who announced it on Wednesday (July 7).

Sharing the same views with our Sarawak leaders, the appointment of our new DPM was a wise and strategic political move because he (Datuk Seri Ismail) is a very capable man, and strategic because our PM is putting an Umno leader a step closer to the position of being prime minister.

The appointment will hopefully ease Umno’s jitters and to give our present Federal government the good opportunity to fight Covid-19 which had become the major concern for all Malaysians.

Datuk Seri Ismail’s new position is important particularly in administering the nation in the current pandemic situation and he needs our full support in making it happen because unity is strength.

Personally, I have mentioned to our media friends that it was a good move made by Datuk Seri Muhyiddin who had finally appointed his deputy  and Datuk Seri Ismail Ismail can be seen as among the most experienced to hold that post from among the senior ministers and other contenders.

He is also a senior parliamentarian and has held positions in several ministries before this and with his vast experience, he will be able to assist the Prime Minister in addressing the our country’s economy and security needs, as well as managing the ongoing pandemic.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Factors must be considered before we come up with vaccine passport mechanism

 Recently I have mentioned that we are hopeful for the ‘vaccine passport’ mechanism to be sorted out soon to encourage interstate and foreign travels but our state’s entry points would remain closed to visitors even if the state had achieved its target of having 80 per cent of its population vaccinated against Covid-19 in August.

This is due to the vaccination rate in other states in Malaysia which is still comparatively low, and also on the emergence and threats of new variants such as the highly-transmissible Delta variant of Covid-19.

As the minister in charge of tourism in Sarawak, I personally would like to see our entry points open, but the current situation is not permitting with the many new variants such as the Delta, and with many (people) yet to be vaccinated, this would not happen soon.

We cannot just look from Sarawak’s perspective before the vaccine passports are to be issued before our entry points are to be opened and we have to look from Malaysia’s perspective. If we are looking forward to issuing vaccine passports to individuals who had completed their two-dose Covid-19 vaccination, all these factors must be taken into consideration.

Previously on June 20, our Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had regarded the ‘vaccine passport’ proposal as one of the measures being considered for interstate and international travel.

Later on June 21, the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had announced that Singapore might become the first foreign country to recognise the MySejahtera application as Malaysia’s ‘vaccination passport’ and thus, might allow fully-vaccinated Malaysians to enter the island country.

Monday, 5 July 2021

Thumbs up to Alena Murang & her cousin, Sarah Lois Dorai for their achievements in IMVA 2021

Heartiest congratulations to our well-known local Sape player, Alena Murang who together with Sarah Lois Dorai had won the Best Asia & Pacific Music Video and received an honourable mention for Best Costume category at this year’s International Music Video Awards (IMVA) in United Kingdom (UK).

Their music video which entitled "Warrior Spirit" was released on YouTube on 27 May and had so far attracted over 149,000 views worldwide while winning the hearts of the IMVA judges who were from various countries. 

Alena together with her cousin, Sarah had made us proud by putting both Sarawak and Malaysia on the international music scene which is indeed competitive in nature. But both had shown to us that Sarawakian artistes are capable of using music as well as creative film making as the platforms in showcasing of our rich traditional Sarawak and Borneo heritage.

Both of them had also inspired our local youths to follow their footsteps especially in the music, creative and film making industry which offers limitless possibilities for the young generation to showcase their wonderful talents. Sarawak’s unique history, culture, arts and traditions had always captivated the imagination of people from other countries simply because of the exotic nature the state is blessed with.

The music video was wonderfully done and the storyboard was mesmerising to the viewers while capturing their imagination on how wonderful the state of Sarawak is especially where its past history, rich culture, arts and traditions are concerned. It is still a wonderful place like no other!

I have commended their music video which was produced by the same people behind Alena’s previous award winning music video called "Midang Midang" and was directed by Sarah Lois Dorai who is also her own cousin, and co-produced by Kanid Studio and Project Room.

Thumbs up to their creativity in taking inspiration from the diverse ethnic cultures, traditional dances and colourful costumes found in Sarawak which were showcased in the entire video that had related the spirit of local warriors, their strength and courage in fighting together for a bigger cause.

Looking forward to the next "Ziarah Belia Programme" to be held soon

Even it was done on a modest scale with less people involved, the recent "Program Ziarah Belia" we had at Asajaya District Office last weekend was still good enough for us to get in touch with local youths there.

The programme was held in accordance with strict SOP and we had the opportunity to present donations in the form of temperature scanners, face masks and hand sanitisers via drive-through to 28 youth clubs and associations in Asajaya.

I was joined by our Ministry of Youth and Sports, permanent secretary Puan Nancy Haji Jolhi, Samarahan's Resident, Encik Brahim Lumpu, Asajaya District Officer, Encik Rais Ahmat and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB​) Asajaya Women Branch chief, Hajah Mahani Sahari.

It is a good outreach programme for our local youths who had abided with the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) along with the 10pm curfew which required the public, especially the youths, to comply with it and stay home. Similar programme will be extended to other parts of Sarawak but it is also depending on the present Covid-19 situation because we need to comply with the latest SOP and directives by the relevant authorities.

On another note, I have mentioned to our media friends that we had held follow-up discussions with the Police and found that social issues concerning the youth such as drug abuse and thefts are actually decreasing because apparently, the implementation of MCO at this time is also beneficial.

In the meantime, I have mentioned to our media friends that suicide cases due to the pressure faced during the Covid-19 pandemic is increasing and worrying at this time. Even  most of the cases reported occurred in Peninsular Malaysia but we are also worried because the cases were due to emotional stress following the implementation of the MCO. Syukur alhamdullilah, it is clear such cases is not an issue in Sarawak because it is managed well locally and our youths are well taken care of.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Getting our athletes and coaches vaccinated including those training outside Sarawak

Recently I have mentioned to our media friends that we will be discussing with Sarawak Sports Corporation (SSC) to resolve the issue of vaccinating Sarawakian athletes and coaches who are currently outside Sarawak, especially in West Malaysia.

I am also hoping for the private sector to be involved in this endeavour because in West Malaysia there many private hospitals and clinics had been authorised to administer Covid-19 vaccines. Hence, if there is such a location not far from where these Sarawakians athletes are based, we can try to get them to be sent to such medical facilities to be vaccinated.

Presently there are many Sarawakian athletes who based in West Malaysia because they are also national athletes and this also include our football players and also our athletes who are preparing for the forthcoming Malaysian Games (Sukma).

If our athletes want to be vaccinated in the states where they are currently based, it may be possible that they can only be accommodated after the people from that state are vaccinated. We view the vaccination of our athletes and coaches is important to ensure their safety during training. This is so that they do not feel worried and they can carry out their training regularly. I know some of our football players and officials have been infected with Covid-19 before and after going the vaccination, even if they did get infected with Covid-19, it would be less severe.

Thumbs up to the White Flag initiative which is happening in our backyard too

Big thanks to our local media friends who had published my personal comments on the white flag initiative which started from the social media channels and is also happening in our own backyard. 

Such initiative would among others enable local folks, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and charities to better channel the assistances to those in need because I viewed it coming from the bottom; it is for the rakyat by the rakyat so that the local community is aware of those who are in need.

When they see the white flag, at least they can bring a bag of rice and provide the affected resident with some cash as a relief. For the government, it has provided various initiatives and assistance packages to the people to tide them over during the pandemic. Our Sarawak government has introduced the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) packages in so many series but on the micro level, there are also those who did not receive these assistances. That is why the suggestion for the white flags to be raised is well received.

Similarly, it was crucial that the community play a collective role to alleviate the burden of those who are severely affected by Covid-19 and the movement control order (MCO). We have heard there are many cases of suicide due to stress and to me this is worrying. I think it is important that we identify those who are suffering.

We are also touched by the white flag movement, adding that had prompted me to doing my bit which include carrying bags of rice in the car and to be given to those affected. In Kuching, we have seen this movement take shape and there are already houses which have raised the white flags. Of course, there are also those affected who might not raise their flags. However, I hope that this is not being abused by irresponsible quarters who may deprive others of the deserved help by also raising the white flags.