KOTA KINABALU: Putrajaya has not finalised the formula for the 40% revenue entitlement for Sabah and Sarawak and has instead decided to double the special grants to the two states, said national DAP vice-chairman Chong Chieng Jen today.
He said the decision by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to increase the special grants comes after it realised the unfair treatment of the people in both the states by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
“The real formula has yet to be agreed upon. But in the meantime, to show the sincerity of the PH federal government and in view of the injustice of the BN, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng decided to double the special grants and review further the amount over the next five years,” he told reporters after opening the Sabah DAP convention at the Kian Kok Middle School here today.
Present were acting Sabah DAP chairman Frankie Phoon, Sabah DAP secretary Chan Foong Hin, Sabah DAP Wanita chief Jannie Lasimbang, Sabah DAP adviser Jimmy Wong Tse Phin and others.
In the 2020 Budget, Lim, who is national DAP secretary-general, announced special grants of RM53.4 million to Sabah and RM32 million to Sarawak.
This was the first increase since 1974. An attempt to review the special grants in 1973 hit a snag after the death of then deputy prime minister Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman that year.
For the last 45 years, Sabah was only getting RM26.7 million and Sarawak RM16 million despite the annual increase in federal collection of revenue from both states.
Chong said this special grant was supposed to be reviewed every five years.
“So the government at the time never made any attempt to review it.
“Only when PH took over Putrajaya, has this review been done,” he said.
The Sarawak MP from Stampin said this was done in view of DAP’s promise to observe the terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and fulfil whatever was promised in PH’s 14th general election manifesto.
“Although there is no fixed formula yet, it is still a good start by the Pakatan Harapan federal government, which has only been in power 18 months,” said Chong, who is also the federal deputy domestic trade and consumer affairs minister.
Lowering age of election candidates to 18
On another matter, Chong said DAP welcomed Sabah’s move to lower the age for voting and candidates to 18, saying this is a progressive decision by the state.
“If we allow those aged 18 to vote, why not give them the chance to get elected as well? Young elected assemblymen will be able to give voice to those in their age group and better understand their needs.
“This means the state government will be able to tap a wide spectrum of views, not just from the old but also the young.
“It is the same as giving women a chance to get elected as such woman representatives will be able to express the views of women,” he said.