Chong tells Abdul Karim not to belittle Sarawak DUN

The Sarawak legislative assembly building. – The Star photo.

By S. Harrish

THE role of the Sarawak state assembly should not be belittled by associating the call for a sitting to discuss the vaccine procurement to a cheap publicity stunt.

Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen chided Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah Abdul Karim for making such a link as there were many unanswered questions over the Covid-19 vaccine.

He also described Abdul Karim’s reason that it required a 28-day notice for convening a sitting and the expiry date of the assembly on June 6 as ridiculous and ignorant.

Chong said in a statement today that the Standing Orders clearly provides that in cases of urgency, the Speaker can reduce or entirely dispense with the 28-day notice requirement for convening a sitting.

“Is Abdul Karim so ignorant of the Standing Orders that he is totally unaware of such provision?”

He said more than two months have passed since the GPS government first said it will buy its own vaccines if federal supplies were insufficient and slow.

“But so far there is only talk and no action by the State government.”

To purchase vaccines and to carry out the mass vaccination programme, Chong said it will involve additional state funds and it must be subject to approval by the state assembly.

“Unless Abdul Karim intends to by-pass the process of the state assembly to use public funds for the purpose,” he said, adding that no one was above the law.

Chong said the state assembly was the only legal channel for the approval of public funds and the most appropriate forum for the Government to inform Sarawakians of its plans on the vaccine.

Outlining several questions, he said people needed to know which vaccine it intends to buy, its costs, logistics and the timeline for its rollout.

“Given that only 56,000 people in Sarawak were vaccinated with two doses of vaccines in two months, how do they plan to vaccinate 50,000 people in a day as claimed by Dr Sim Kui Hian?”

He added that Sarawakians were in the dark on these and the State government also seems clueless about it.