I call upon Adenan not to confuse and equate the notion of True Autonomy and Administrative Autonomy. These are two different matter. So far, the so-called devolution of power spoken by Adenan are mere Administrative Autonomy.
Sarawakian wants True Autonomy and not mere Administrative Autonomy. The True Autonomy that we want is stated clearly in our DAP Sarawak’s 2014 Bintulu Declaration, ie. autonomy in Education, Health care, Internal security and Taxation.
What Adenan is negotiating with the Federal Government is only Administrative Autonomy, not True Autonomy.
Let me give an example of the difference between True Autonomy and Administrative Autonomy:
True Autonomy in education means, we have the power to decide whether to revive English medium schools, to write our own school syllabus and to decide how much allocation it is for education every year.
On the other hand, Administrative Autonomy is only the power to decide where to build the schools and who will be the contractors to build those schools, with the fund decided and allocated by the Federal Government.
Basically, True Autonomy is the power to make policy, whereas Administrative Autonomy is only the power to decide how to carry out the policy that has already been made. The difference is like the roles of cabinet ministers making the policy and that of the departmental heads executing the policies.
What Adenan is talking about is merely that of the departmental heads’ power to carry out the policies made by the power that be in the Federal Government. This is a far cry from the notion of True Autonomy that we Sarawakian and DAP Sarawak talk about.
Under the Administrative Autonomy that Adenan is asking for from the Federal Government, the State Government does not even have the power to decide the annual allocated for education in Sarawak. It has to abide by whatever decision or allocation decided by the Federal Government.
Therefore, the only major change that Administrative Autonomy will bring about is a change of the cronies who will benefit from the government contracts. Previously, the main benefactors are the cronies of the Federal Ministers, with Administrative Autonomy to the State, they will be the cronies of the State Ministers.
For the people of Sarawak, we will still be subject to the policies of the Federal Government, eg. no English medium schools.
Without the source of revenue at our disposal, there cannot be True Autonomy for the State. That is why DAP Sarawak advocates for autonomy in Taxation, ie. 20% of oil and gas royalties and 50% of all tax revenue collected from Sarawak to be given to the State Government. It is only with sufficient revenue that the State will have True Autonomy.
Another example of the difference between True Autonomy and Administrative Autonomy can be illustrated in today’s expose in papers about the cancellation of JPA Scholarships for this year. This is a decision of the cabinet. Even if we have the so-called Administrative Autonomy that Adenan is talking about, we will still be subject to that decision on the cancellation of the JPA Scholarship. If we have True Autonomy, we will then have the discretion to decide whether to cancel the JPA scholarship for Sarawak students or otherwise.
As a veteran politician, it is impossible that Adenan does not know the difference between True Autonomy and Administrative Autonomy. He is lumping the two together hoping that the people will be fooled into believing that he is fighting for True Autonomy for the State while in actual fact, he is only fighting for Administrative Autonomy. Is Adenan putting up this show with Najib merely for the coming State Elections? Is he powerless to fight for True Autonomy for Sarawak?
Chong Chieng Jen
MP for Bandar Kuching/ ADUN for Kota Sentosa
DAP Sarawak Chairman