Press Statement By Chong Chieng Jen:
Sarawak DAP welcomes and supports the imposition of the localised Emergency Order for Sarawak so that the State Elections will not be held in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, that was the call ventilated by me in Parliament during the debate on Monday.
The current Emergency Order expires on 1.8.2021 and upon expiration of the said EO, the Sarawak DUN will be deemed automatically dissolved and under the Sarawak Constitution, elections must be held within 60 days from the date of dissolution, i.e. 1.10.2021. Therefore, unless localised EO was imposed on Sarawak, otherwise, we will be compelled to hold the State elections before 1.10.2021.
Given the current pandemic situation in the State, it is definitely suicidal to hold the State Elections.
As such, my suggestion in Parliament to have the localised EO on Sarawak.
My stand was also immediately supported by the Secretary-General of GPS Alex Linggi Nanta though
some of the State GPS ministers had other views, stressing that the GPS is ready for elections anytime.
Finally, I am glad that sense and sensibility prevails and the King made the proclamation for the imposition of the localised EO on Sarawak to hold back the State Elections.
With the imposition of the EO on Sarawak, the State Elections are now held back till next year. It gives the Government the time to focus on policies and measures to tackle the pandemic and help the people. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Government to fully utilise the next 6 months to:
- Complete the vaccination exercise for the whole of Sarawak, including those below 18 years of age and foreign workers;
- To improve the healthcare services and the facilities to cater for the outbreak and the need for extensive medical care of the Covid patients;
- revive the economy and the business sectors; and
- restore the livelihood and standard of living of the people to the pre-pandemic time.
So far, the GPS Government has done a fairly good job on the first item, but very lacking and way below par on the other Items 2, 3 and 4. There is no substantial and sufficient increase in the healthcare facilities to cater to ever-increasing demand for such services caused by the outbreak.
There is also practically no help at all by the State Government for the private business sector and the livelihood and standard of living of the people have deteriorated despite the huge reserve fund of the State Government.In order to help the people and the economy, the State Government must immediately convene the Sarawak DUN and present a supplementary budget for the State to be spent within the next few months of this year to help the people and the business sector.
The Government must also plan for a huge deficit budget for year 2022 in order to stimulate the State’s economy. The Year 2021 State’s surplus budget is a mistake right from the start. Businesses in Sarawak would not have to suffer as they are currently suffering now had the State Government took my advice in Sarawak DUN last year to introduce a deficit budget instead of the surplus budget for 2021.
Abang Jo and his team of advisors must take heed of the fact that in times of recession and economic difficulties, it is the duty of the Government to s introduce deficit budget and to spend so that the private sector can survive, even if it means that the Government has to take up loans for that purpose.
Now that State Elections are postponed to next year, I call on Abang Jo to immediately convene the Sarawak DUN sitting to introduce and pass a large supplementary budget to help the people and business sector in the State.
Chong Chieng Jen
DAP Sarawak Chairman