KUCHING: The Sarawak government will continue being inclusive in its policies, in a way that is not just seen, but also felt by the people in the state.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas said inclusivity and power sharing have been a decades-long practice of the state’s largest Barisan Nasional (BN) component, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB).
“PBB has managed to lead the government in Sarawak for a very long time, because of power sharing.
“Of course there are times when things seemed to be very challenging, but we are always open for discussion, to make sure that we are not leaving anybody behind.
“We are inclusive in our policies which are not only seen, but also felt by the people,” the PBB acting deputy president said in an exclusive interview with FMT in Kuching last weekend.
He also addressed concerns that other BN parties were being sidelined due to PBB’s dominance in the state government.
This is especially so following the Pujut crisis, which saw a majority of the state legislative assembly members voting for a ministerial motion to disqualify DAP’s Pujut assemblyman Dr Ting Tiong Choon.
BN component Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Dr Sim Kui Hian had earlier told FMT that he and several other BN assembly members were caught “totally unprepared” by the motion brought by the state’s International Trade and E-Commerce Minister Wong Soon Koh.
PBB has 39 of the 72 state seats won by BN. SUPP holds seven seats, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has 11 seats, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (4), with the remaining 11 seats held by BN direct candidates.
The state opposition parties only won 10 state seats in last year’s Sarawak election.
Uggah, who is also the state agriculture modernisation, native land and regional development minister, pointed to certain instances to prove the existence of power sharing between all Sarawak BN component parties.
This included the way the state ministerial portfolios were distributed, which showed that every BN leader is given suitable portfolios that enabled them to help their respective communities, he said.
“All the important portfolios that concern the Dayak community are given to the Dayaks. James Masing is handling infrastructure, Stephen Rundi Utom is in charge of utilities, Michael Manyin Jawong, education and research.
“Even SUPP is given local government and housing. Because for us at PBB, power sharing is not just rhetoric, but it must be felt by each and everyone of us.”
He admitted that the state opposition was always looking for issues to use against the Sarawak government, and the Pujut crisis was one of them.
“It is very clear that the issue is whether the person (Ting) is a Malaysian or not.
“And it will be very embarrassing for Sarawak and the state assembly to have somebody with dual citizenships or with non-Malaysian citizenship,” Uggah said.
However, he added, it turned out to be a way for the opposition, especially the DAP, to revive their image in the state.
“I admit that they are really taking advantage of this issue. But all issues will eventually die down, and I think this whole thing (the Pujut crisis) will depend on the appeal.
“For us, we have to make sure that our main agendas are carried forward.”
These agendas include the state’s rural transformation programme, and improving the lives of the people in Sarawak, he said.