KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 15 – Pakatan Harapan (PH) is proposing to grant Sarawak greater autonomy on health and education matters, says incumbent Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen.
In a statement today, the DAP Youth leader said PH has set the foundation and principles for a comprehensive action plan towards “meaningful devolution of power” to Sarawak through a Power Devolution Blueprint that will be discussed and agreed upon by both the federal and state governments.
“One of the key steps to be taken is to first take education and health care out from the federal list in the federal constitution and insert it into the concurrent list as a joint responsibility to be shared among federal and state governments of Sarawak and Sabah.
“From there, the blueprint will outline key milestones within the next five to 10 years along with a periodic review of the progress made,” said DAP Youth chief Dr Yii, who is seeking a second term in Bandar Kuching.
The federal list covers the subjects over which the federal government has exclusive legislative power, while the concurrent list contains subjects regarding which both the federal and provincial governments can enact laws.
The blueprint will also outline the strategies that Sarawak will employ to develop human capital within the state in line with local needs.
“Towards that end, once our capacity is built and we are ready to take full control, we can start with devolving the powers for health and education to Sarawak by fully inserting it to the state list in the Federal Constitution.
“Such progression is important and the responsible way to avoid such big responsibilities to the state being mishandled at the expense of the people especially if we are not ready or have yet to have the capacity to handle,” he added.
The Covid-19 pandemic has shown the importance of an equal federal-state partnership, especially in health matters, to effectively manage outbreaks and protect the lives of Sarawakians, Dr Yii said. “Not only that, health is also intricately linked to the state’s economy.”
In education, PH aims to first develop sufficient teaching manpower. “The syllabus being taught in schools and institutes of higher learning must incorporate input from local stakeholders to produce versatile talent geared towards the jobs we want to create.
“Such dynamic investments will bring a positive impact to the employability of youths as well as individuals, especially women, who aim to re-enter the workforce,” Dr Yii said.
With greater autonomy comes the greater need to ensure transparency and accountability. Dr Yii said it is pertinent for PH to have a robust and institutionalised check and balance system including a strong and credible opposition to counter balance within Sarawak.
Other Institutional reforms that were mooted by PH include strengthening the Public Accounts Committee of the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN) and the establishment of multi-party DUN Select Committees that will be essential for stronger checks and balances while ensuring such autonomy directly benefits the people of Sarawak.