Village chiefs appointed by PH will not replace those chosen by Sarawak govt

Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Sivarasa Rasiah says the issue of ‘divide and rule’ does not arise.

KUCHING: Putrajaya has defended its decision to appoint Village Community Management Councils (MPKKs) in Sarawak, saying they will not replace the ones appointed by the state government.

Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Sivarasa Rasiah said statements by Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) leaders opposing the move seemed to imply that the federal government was trying to divide and rule the people of Sarawak at the grassroots level by appointing its own community leaders.

“I would like to make it clear that the federal government will only appoint its own community leaders and will not replace the ones appointed by the state government under the Community Chief and Head Ordinance 2004,” he said in a statement today.

Therefore, he said the issue of “divide and rule” did not arise.

Yesterday, Sivarasa had announced that the federal government was going ahead with the appointment of the MPKKs in Sarawak despite resistance from the state government.

He said the councils had been planned for implementation throughout the country last year by the Pakatan Harapan government but failed to take off in Sarawak.

“We will be discussing more about the details and mechanics of the appointments (at the ministerial level) but, in principle, this is the situation,” he said after the annual general assembly of Sarawak PKR divisions here.

In his statement, Sivarasa said the councils appointed by Putrajaya would help to empower the administration at the village level besides making sure the federal government’s programmes would be enjoyed by all Sarawakians at the grassroots level.

Deputy Chief Minister James Jemut Masing had accused PH of trying to use the affairs of the community leaders to divide and rule people of Sarawak.

“We will never allow or agree with the PH government to have two Tuai Rumahs (KK) to administer one longhouse. Divide and rule is not acceptable. Please do not take us for fools,” he said.

Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas also criticised Sivarasa for speaking like an “ignorant outsider” about how village council appointments were made in Sarawak.

He said Sivarasa should have made efforts to understand the state government’s system, which had long been in place.

Saratok MP Ali Biju threw in his support for the federal government and told Masing and Uggah not to politicise the issue.

“This move is a sincere and genuine effort by the PH government to make sure its ‘Shared Prosperity’ vision reaches all levels, including the kampungs,” he said.