KUALA TERENGGANU: PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang today thanked Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad for his promise to return oil royalties to the east coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu.
He noted such a move was very positive in efforts to revive the spirit of federalism, which had been weakened in the past.
“Implementing the concept of federalism, which is enshrined in the Federal Constitution, remains the most important national agenda.
“The prime minister has promised to return petroleum royalties, once taken away from Kelantan and Terengganu. To this, I say thank you.
“It is my hope that more room will be given to state governments, notably in the aspects of developmental allocation, infrastructure and balanced investment opportunities, regardless of political differences,” he said in his policy speech at the 64th PAS muktamar held at the Gong Badak indoor stadium here today.
The assembly, which was attended by all top PAS leaders and its members, also saw the presence of top Umno leaders, led by its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, MIC deputy president SK Devamany, as well as Gagasan Sejahtera leaders from its member parties Ikatan, Berjasa and Parti Cinta Malaysia.
During Mahathir’s previous tenure as prime minister, from 1981 to 2003, the government under him stopped paying oil royalties to Terengganu, after Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the state to PAS in 1999.
The payments were instead channelled to a federal agency tasked with helping the state.
On another matter, the Marang MP said it was up to the current Pakatan Harapan on what they want to do with PAS’ bill on amending the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355), or RUU 355, to enhance the powers of shariah courts.
Hadi said the Islamist party had long begun its journey to make shariah laws sovereign in the framework of the country’s parliamentary democracy, with a series of explanations since the 1950s, followed by the necessary enactments in the two states in the 1990s.
“All of these have taken over 40 years, with leaders ever changing. This shows our resolve to realise this agenda in a patient manner.
“Previously, PAS saw there was room to empower the shariah courts. This is why PAS took the effort to bring RUU355 to Parliament in 2016.
“Now, it is in the hands of the new government to decide on the bill,” he said.
Hadi said the party, together with the two east coast state governments, were always ready to discuss and cooperate with the federal government to ensure the bill becomes law, aside from opening the door for dialogue to academicians and NGOs to better understand the “bigger agenda” brought about by PAS.
On the issue of cost of living, Hadi said the high cost of living must be addressed not merely by abolishing the goods and services tax (GST) and reverting to the sales and services tax (SST).
“More effort must be taken to study a taxation model that is fairer to the rakyat, traders and the government. It cannot be done by digging the same hole, which has proven to be a failure previously,” he added.