Where is the Sarawak enforcement unit ? —— Violet

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Debate on Distribution of Gas (Amendment) Ordinance 2023 by YB Violet Yong:

Tuan Speaker,
Thank you for allowing to participate in the Debate on the Distribution of Gas (Amendment) Ordinance 2023.

In this Bill Clause 5 seeks to add in a Subsection (5) and (6) to the original clause 23 concerning Power of arrest, search, seizure and investigation. In the original clause 23(1) it provides “a person authorized in writing by the Director (in this section referred to as an ‘authorized officer’) shall have the power to conduct an investigation where there is reason to believe that an offence or contravention of any provision of regulations made hereunder has been committed”.

And Sub Section 2 “The authorized officer shall have all the powers of a police officer of whatever rank as provided under the Criminal Procedure Code (Act 593) in relation to arrest such and seizure and police investigation into criminal offences, but such powers shall in addition to the powers provided under this Ordinance and not in derogation thereof.”

It is clear that under the principal agreement, the power of arrest, search and investigation lies with the authorized officer appointed thereunder.

Tuan Speaker,

As we know the return of gas distribution rights from the Federal government came into effect on 1st July, 2018 following the passing of Gas Distribution Ordinance 2016 (GDO) in this Dun on Nov 21, 2016. The gas rights is with Sarawak.

The current amendment bill clauses 5 & 6 are adding on the power of the authorized officer. Until today, I believe many of us in this August House are clueless about the whereabout of the authorized officer. May I ask whether this authorized officer has been duly appointed and under which authority or Ministry? Let’s say, should a person see an illegal activity concerning LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) related crimes, who should the person report to? Where is your enforcement unit? May I request for the detail to be made known in the August House so that the public can reach out to the rightful authority.  

Mr. Speaker,

Having Sarawak gaining back the gas distribution rights from the Federal is all well and good for us but may we be reminded that when the State gains new rights, it comes with added responsibility including enforcing the laws. The LPG enforcement or power delegation is under Sarawak State Government purview. In other words, Sarawak must have its own enforcement unit to regulate the respective laws.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no enforcement action taken by the State for any offences committed under the law as there is no enforcing unit being formed till now. It is shocking to see that Sarawak is taking a lackadaisical attitude in setting up the required enforcement unit under GDO despite Sarawak gaining full control and management of all activities associated with the distribution of gas a few years ago. We cannot have a situation where we keep tightening the laws but there is no enforcement of the laws.

I would like to enlighten this August House that before the return of the Distribution of gas rights, the regulating bodies were the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumerism (KPDNHEP). But now, it is no longer their responsibility but the Sarawak government. As far as i know, should there be any gas distribution related crimes occurring and if one were to report to KPDNHEP, it will be furtile.

Since there wasn’t any enforcement unit being set up yet, problems relating to gas cylinders have surfaced as late last month,  there was a report that the Army personnel detected and arrested two men and seized two lorries trying to smuggle 200 gas cylinders into Indonesia. The two lorries were caught in the oil plantation in Empaling Stass, Serikin. We, however, do not know the end game to this arrest. Was this case referred to the State enforcement unit for further action to be taken? We are totally in the dark, so please, enlighten us on the matter. This is only the tip of the iceberg. How much more have we lost due to the illegal activities at the border?

It is disappointing that Sarawak GPS government keeps harping on getting back autonomy but when certain rights are returned, the Sarawak Government is at a loss to deal with the responsibility that comes with it.

Gas cylinders are a subsidised item and if there is no proper enforcement of the laws leading to rampant crimes, the nation stands to lose. How much more money can we afford to let it slip through your fingers when Sarawak government fails to enforce the law?

I therefore call on Honourable Minister to explain in this August House the status and the cause that is hampering Sarawak government from establishing the required enforcement unit in carrying out the necessary task.