Banning of community leaders to PH events is an abuse of power – Voon

Voon Shiak Ni

MIRI: The banning of community leaders from attending functions organised by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government is an abuse of power that does nothing good to serve the local communities.

Voon Shiak Ni, Sarawak special officer to the Federal Ministry of Housing and Local Government (KPKT), said this view is in response to the recent statement made by Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin who defended the recent news of a state government circular that prohibited community leaders and village chiefs from attending PH organised events.

Opposition politicians in Sarawak last week were up in arms over a circular said to come from the state government prohibiting community leaders from attending programmes and events organised by the federal government now controlled by the PH party.

“This is not a right but an abuse of power, “ she retorted in press statement today.

She questioned the rationale for banning them from attending the PH federal government functions as it would place them in contact with their Federal Ministers and allow them to be informed and be updated on policies and plans of the government.

She stressed that it is pertinent for various federal government agencies, officers, and political leaders to meet with the community leaders to discuss various matters pertaining to the development and welfare of the people .

“If the state government cannot have a good reason for this prohibition, the directive to stop them is only politically motivated to serve the political interest of GPS and their political masters,” she said.

She concurred with Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism and Pakatan Harapan Sarawak chairman Chong Chieng Jen that the directive by the state government was not constitutional .

“YB Lee Kim Shin should not mislead the people about where the funds for the community leaders and village chiefs are really from. Our YB Baru Bian (Minister of Works) had earlier mentioned that the federal government had allocated RM35 million to pay the allowances of community heads next year,” she added.

Voon urged the Sarawak GPS government to act for the people’s welfare and rights and not for their own political agenda .

DAP Sarawak organising secretary Violet Yong said such a circular does not reflect the spirit of a government that is elected through democratic practices and she was disappointed that there was still no mutual respect from the Sarawak government to the PH-federal government despite GPS claiming they are PH-friendly.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister of Local Government Datu Dr Penguang Manggil on Monday dismissed it as untrue, saying it was the PH which first banned elected representatives from GPS in attending schools and other functions.

While he may not agree with the idea, the Marudi state assemblyman said banning state elected representatives from primary and secondary schools functions were already in place for some time by Putrajaya.

He also advised Chong against his threat to pursue the matter in court, saying this would inevitably split the local and rural communities.