After the 4-month honeymoon as Chief Minister of Sarawak, it is time for Adenan to implement the 10-point Policy Reforms proposed by DAP Sarawak.

After the 4-month honeymoon as Chief Minister of Sarawak, it is time for Adenan to implement the 10-point Policy Reforms proposed by DAP Sarawak.

After 4 months of his appointment as the Chief Minister of Sarawak, the honeymoon period for Adenan is over.  It is time for him to implement true reforms to the system in the State’s administration.

So far, what Adenan has shown (eg. accepting different opinions from the opposition, disallowing his immediate family members to apply for State land and logging licence) is mere personality difference with his predecessor Taib Mahmud.  However, he has not put in place policy change to the State’s Administration.

Sarawak’s State administration has been plagued with cronyism, nepotism and corrupt practices.  Without any policy reform, these vices will continue to flourish.  He alone coming clean will not change the system for the better.  One good indication is the zero response from his colleagues in the Barisan Nasional on his recent statement about not allowing his immediate family to apply for state land and logging licences.

To eliminate cronyism, nepotism and corruption, it is not sufficient for Adenan to make such personal statements, there must be policy reforms in the system and the State administration and this must be done in his first year as the Chief Minister of Sarawak.

We DAP hereby propose 10-point policy reforms for Adenan to adopt to change for the better.

1.         Public tender for government projects
·       According to the written reply from Minister in the Sarawak State Assembly, from 2007 to 2011, the stategovernment’s bridge construction projectswere all grantedwithout open tender process.  The whole worth of these RM1.4 billion bridge-building contracts were monopolised by 2 companies
·       The 15-year concession for maintenance of 4,600 km of roads in Sarawak was also awarded to acompany without going through open tender process.
·       The implementation of open tender can reduce corruption, cronyism and abuses.  It will also reduce the costs of projects to the Government, while promote competition, fairer distribution of wealth and creation of more jobs for the people.

2.         Except for the case of land lease renewal and land grant for public uses such aseducation, health care,sports, charity and welfare, public biddings and open tenders should be apply for the alienation of state lands todevelopers or oil palm plantation companies.
·         This will increase the revenue for the State government.  Take for example, the 269-acre state land at BDC Kuching was alienated to a private company for the premium of RM80,000,000 while the market price of the said land was easily more than RM400,000,000.  The government was short-changed by RM320,000,000.  This could have been avoided had there been open tender or public bidding in the process of the alienation.
·         Alienation of State land to private companies at a much under-valued price is a form of corrupt practice and power abuse.

3.         Logging licences should only cover an area of 500 – 1000 Hectares each and should be awarded through public biddings or open tender process.
·         Rather than having a few large crony companies control the logging industry under the present system, the introduction of this reform will ensure fairer distribution of the State’s wealth.
·         It will also avoid having our timber resources been controlled by a few large crony companies and ensure that the local timber downstream industry has sufficient supply of timber raw material.
·         The Pakatan Rakyat’s one-year experience of governing Perak has shown the stark difference in revenue for the State when logging licences were granted under open tender process.  Under BN government where there is no open tender for the award of timber licences, the Government received a revenue of RM16 million for the grant of timber licences in a year.  When open tender system was introduced by the Pakatan Rakyat government in 2008, for the same logging surface area, the government received RM40 million in licence fees.

4.         To introducethe Freedom of Information Ordinance, so as to ensure transparency in government administration and thereby reduce corrupt practises and abuses.
·         Currently, the process of government decisions are not revealed to the public.  Government projects, lands, logging and mining licences and the likes were granted to BN’s cronies without public scrutiny.  This is a loss to the State.
·         In the past 8 years, RM12 billions of development fund has gone unaccounted.
·         The introduction of the Freedom of Information Ordinance will curb the blatant abuses and corruption in the State administration.

5.         To implement Land-to-the-Tiller policy bythe state government, granting theruralfolks 20 – 30 acres of land per family, and providing all financial assistance and expertise for them to cultivate their land.
·         This policy will increase the revenue of the rural folks, thereby create a large group of middle-income landowners who will form the backbone of the Sarawak’s economy.
·         When the tillers have land, there is then no need for them to litigate in Court for claim of Native Customary Right land.
·         Instead of granting hundreds of thousands of acres of land to crony companies which is the case under the present policy, it will be better to let the people have land and a share in the State’s wealth.

6.         To build sufficientgood quality housing flats (3-bedroom) for the middle and low income earners and implement the “rent to own” policy.
·         To ensure that every family owns a house.
·         By increasing the housing supply, it will slow down the escalating house prices.
·         As at December, 2013, household debt was 87% of GDP and housing loans is a substantial part of the household debts.  By providing inexpensive accommodation to the middle and low income group, it is the most effective way to ease their financial burden.

7.         To reform the public transport by the government acquiring all public bus service companies in Kuching, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu and thereafter improve its regularity and service.  Such public bus services should be provided free to the public in the first 5 years.
·         At present the public bus systems in these 4 major towns of Sarawak are appalling.  Once the Government takes over the bus companies, it must inject large fund to upgrade the systems.
·         Most Sarawakian do not have the habit of using public buses.  To entice them to commute in public buses, there must be sufficient tangible benefits.  Therefore, besides improving the system, free bus service should be provided in the initial 5 years.
·         More than 15% of the income of the middle and low income group is expended on transport, eg. petrol, car loan etc.  The provision of free bus service will help to reduce their costs of living.
·         Increase in bus usage will reduce traffic jam, fuel consumption and emission of greenhouse gases.

8.         To appoint the Opposition State Assembly member as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) who shall determines the target and agenda of the PAC inquiries.
·         At present, the Chairman of PAC is held by a BN State Assembly member.  Many scandals involving the BN leaders and their family members were not investigated and probed by the PAC, rendering the PAC ineffective and purposeless.
·         The essence of democracy is that, the ruling party governs, the Opposition provides the check.  The purpose of the PAC is to check the abuses of the government.  When the PAC is controlled by the members of the ruling party, it loses its purpose.  Only if the Opposition helms the PAC can the PAC be effective in providing checks on the Administration.

9.         Reforms in Education

            (a)      To institutionalise the annual allocation of fund for Chinese vernacular schools, Mission Schools and Chinese Middle Schools; and

            (b)      To revive the English medium Mission Schools through the joint effort of the State Government and Private sector.
·         It is undeniable that Mission Schools have produced countless leaders and talents.  There are merits and strength in the Mission School education and thus it should be continued.
·         Though education is a Federal matter, but there are provisions in the Federal Constitution which allows State Government to run schools.  An analogy can be drawn with the case of State Government owning and operating Normah Medical Centre.  Though medical is a Federal matter, yet the State Government can own and operate a hospital.
·         English language is still the official language of Sarawak and thus the Government has a duty to improve the proficiency of English language amongst Sarawakian.
·         We should promote diversity in education so as to produce a wider range of talents for the State.

10.       To restore local government elections
·         Under the present system, Councillors are appointed by their political masters as rewards for their loyalty.  As such, the Councillors need not serve the people nor attend to their complaints.  They only need show their obedience and loyalty to their political masters to ensure re-appointment.
·         The poor maintenance of urban infrastructures is an indication of the failure on the part of these Councillors and the Mayor.
·         The re-introduction of local government elections will keep the Councils and the Councillors on their toe and improve the quality and standard of their services.

Chong Chieng Jen
Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching
State Assembly Member for Kota Sentosa
Sarawak DAP Chairman