Sarawak still in Emergency, state minister says after questions arise over external Budget 2022 sitting

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Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said these new political parties ought to learn from Umno, which had for years left the administration of the state to local parties. — Borneo Post Online pic
Sarawak Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said these new political parties ought to learn from Umno, which had for years left the administration of the state to local parties. — Borneo Post Online pic

KUCHING, Oct 11 — Sarawak has to hold a special sitting for its Budget 2022 outside the state legislature due to certain legal issues stemming from its current status under Emergency law, according to Datuk Seri Karim Rahman Hamzah.

The state tourism, arts and culture minister said the special meeting to be held at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching tomorrow is different from what is required by the State Assembly.

“We are still in the Emergency which has suspended the State Assembly from reconvening its sitting and so the State Assembly could not approve the state Budget 2022.

“But the Budget has to get the endorsement or otherwise next year who is going to pay the salaries of the civil servants?” he told reporters here before flagging off a statewide expedition organised by a local online news portal DayakDaily.

“Who is the one that gives the endorsement? The Emergency Ordinance does provide that on this subject matter,” he said.

He added the state Cabinet’s special meeting this afternoon will empower the Cabinet to give the endorsement.

“After the Cabinet has given its approval, it will be extended to the assemblymen. That is why they are called to attend the special meeting tomorrow,” he said.

Karim, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu vice-president, was responding to Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh who questioned the state government’s decision to hold a special meeting at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching instead of in the state legislative assembly.

The Bawang Assan assemblyman said that the ruling coalition and the Sarawak Speaker’s office should reconvene the assembly for a day or two for the tabling of Budget 2022 even if the state were still under an Emergency Order.

Wong had noted that all assemblymen had been invited to attend the special Budget 2022 meeting at the convention centre on October 12, but said those from his party will not be going as long as it is outside the lawmaking house.

Wong, a former state finance minister, said that tabling and approving the Budget outside of the legislative assembly may not be accepted as official and could have legal repercussions.

Karim urged PSB assemblymen to attend tomorrow’s Budget meeting at the convention centre for a full explanation.

“If you are being responsible as state assemblymen, then you should come and listen. It has something to do with the supply.

“It is not discussing projects, but on the explanation of financial matters,” he said, adding all assemblymen will be free to ask questions at the meeting.

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