KUCHING: Federal deputy minister Sivarasa Rasiah was criticised today for speaking like an ignorant outsider about how village council appointments are made in Sarawak.
Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas said Sivarasa should have made efforts to understand the state government’s system, which had long been in place, but which might be different from those in his own place.
Yesterday, Sivarasa, who is deputy minister for local government, said the federal government was going ahead with the appointment of the new Village Community Management Councils (MPKK) in Sarawak despite resistance from the state government.
However Uggah said “to have two authorities appointing their preferred community leaders will be very disruptive to the stability, harmony and solidarity which have been entrenched among the more than 5,000 rural longhouses, villages and settlements in Sarawak.”
“This has never happened before and I hope will not happen soon,” he said in a statement today.
Uggah said Sarawak had its own procedures for appointing community leaders. “We are very comfortable with this procedure which has worked very well for the state government, the people at large and the rural communities in particular,” he said.
He said heads of the federal and state governments could discuss whether the existing Village Security and Development Committees (JKKK) should be replaced by Village Community Management Councils (MPKK).
Uggah noted however that the federal government had previously agreed that Sarawak could keep its JKKK, he said.
In fact, he said Sarawak leaders would listen to the people’s recommendation of candidates before appointing community leaders.
On Sivarasa’s allegation that the state government had rejected the allocation from the PH government to pay for the salaries of the ketua kaum, Uggah said it was a fallacy.
“When the PH government took over Putrajaya, they took the unprecedented step to decrease the monthly allowance of each Tuai Rumah, Ketua Kampung and kapitan to a mere RM500 per person from the previous RM900. The state government took it upon itself to pay the RM400 extra,” he said.
“The state government is solely responsible for the salaries of the Temenggong, Pemanca and Penghulu,” he said.