SUPP salutes Kamal Salih for resigning as Unimas chairman

Dato Sebastian Ting

MIRI: Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) salutes the stand and decision of prominent economist Tan Sri Kamal Mat Salih to resign from his post as board chairman of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), after his appointment was criticised by the Sarawak government.

“I salute him for his decision,” said Dato Sebastian Ting Chew Yew, the secretary-general of SUPP, a component of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), which is Sarawak’s ruling coalition.

Ting, who is Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said it was unwise to break away from the convention that a Sarawakian should be appointed as Unimas board chairman.

“This is in the best interest of the students and the state where this appointment was never political in nature,” he stressed.

Ting said the sudden announcement of Kamal’s appointment and cutting short the tenure of his predecessor smacked of politics by the federal government, under Pakatan Harapan (PH).

“To them, Sarawak is an opposition state but this appointment has never been political in the past,” he pointed out.

He agreed with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg that the Sarawak government should have been consulted regarding the appointment.

Ting saluted Kamal for stepping down, saying: “He has a good point and has seen comments made in Sarawak and does not wish to be entangled in a political situation.”

Free Malaysia Today had reported Kamal, a prominent economist, as saying: “I don’t want to be involved in any politics. I just wanted to contribute.”

Kamal said the decision was made after hearing that the Sarawak government publicly wanted a Sarawakian for the post and had voiced their dissatisfaction over not being consulted over his appointment.

Kamal, who heads the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER), was named to replace Sarawak’s first Federal Court judge Tan Sri Sulong Matjeraie, whose term was supposed to expire in April next year

Kamal was the MP for Wangsa Maju from 1996 to 1999, and has held various positions in government agencies. He was once a deputy vice-chancellor of Universiti Sains Malaysia.

He was the first non-Sarawakian to be appointed Unimas chairman, and this had triggered an uproar in the state where the clarion call ‘Sarawak for Sarawakians’ runs deep among the people.

The Chief Minister’s Office criticised the move as ‘a break in tradition’, saying that the state government was not consulted.

Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee said Sarawak was not short of qualified candidates to fill the post of Unimas board chairman.

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