Monday, 17 August 2015
Sarawak, in its pursuit for more autonomy from Putrajaya, wants full control over education matters to ensure a consistent policy “in tandem with the state's requirements”, Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said today.
Adenan (pic, right) told the state legislative assembly in its special one-day sitting that one of the problems faced by the state in relations to education was the frequent “flip-flop” of policies, particularly on the use of English as a medium.
Education was an autonomy given to Sarawak under the Malaysia Agreement 1963, but the state partially gave up in the late 1970s.
“Every time we have a new (education) minister, we will have new policies,” he said.
In the 18-point agreement, a list drawn up by Sarawak proposing terms for its incorporation into the Federation of Malaysia stated that even though Sarawak had agreed that Bahasa Malaysia should be the national language of the federation, “English should be an official language of North Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) for all purposes, state or federal, without limitation of time”.
In Sarawak, the judiciary and the state assembly still use English.
“I'm glad we emphasised in English.
“Only now do they (Putrajaya) know that it is important,” said Adenan.
He said instead of flip-flopping, Putrajaya should have promoted the English language together with Bahasa Malaysia.
“Now they want to follow us,” he said.
Adenan said another reason for wanting education back was the need to focus on the maintenance of schools in the state, particularly those in rural areas.
“Promises were made every now and then. Promises (were also) not made every now and then.”
Adenan said despite the promises, very little was being done.
He also told the assembly that it was his priority to ensure that the people and the state benefited from a more efficient and effective implementation of some matters presently under the federal and concurrent lists.
He said among the matters for decentralisation that he would discuss with the federal government included powers related to prosecutions for criminal offences under state laws, administration of sports in the state and the environment.
Adenan said talks would also include devolution of powers over financial matters, such as collection and management of fees and licences for services and matters within the purview of the federal government, as well as a review of special grants to the state under Article 112D.
Other matters included health, welfare, tourism, fisheries, heritage and housing, shipping and management of public works in the state for federal purposes.
“Why do we need the federal Public Works Department to manage federal works when we have our own Public Works Department which existed long before the federation?" he asked.
Adenan said details on the types of empowerment that could be handed over to the state government were still being discussed between the chief secretary to the government and the Sarawak state secretary.
He added that a committee chaired by the state secretary had been formed, comprising four sub-committees on constitutional rights, financial and funding, administration matters and development planning and implementation. – August 17, 2015.