KOTA KINABALU: A senior politician yesterday expressed disappointment over the conduct of the State Assembly sitting, and likened the august House to a cowshed.
Bingkor assemblyman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the State Assembly has lost its touch to be a place where elected assemblymen are free to express and speak for the people, especially when debating the government’s policy speech by Head of State Tun Haji Juhar Mahiruddin.
“But here I find it is like a kandang sapi (cowshed), there is no discipline, no control, no freedom of speech, and they gang up from the backbenchers to the ministers, right up to the Speakers. And here I also find that the Speaker is even involved in the argument, in making comments and debate, when he is supposed to control the conduct of the session,” he said.
Jeffrey pointed out that the leaders today are dictated by their attitude, and their attitude is being dictated by the long indoctrination of how one should conduct oneself.
“They (backbenchers and ministers) are taking advantage of the Speaker. They kept interrupting, raising the Point of Order and asking for ‘penjelasan’ (explanation), but instead of asking me, they go around talking about it. And the Speaker does not adhere to explanation when I pointed out it was not right.
“And I am surprised that there are things I can say outside but I cannot say inside the House, which is supposed to be the other way round. Words like ‘autonomy’ and ‘negara’ (country), that is why I am very disappointed … we are supposed to progress from those colonial and old days to better days,” he said.
Jeffrey pointed out that all assemblymen should work together for the country and the people.
“We are one system, we are in the same system, the government has its role, so does the opposition. So why not let us do our part and express our part and let them (ministers) listen, and let the people listen and see if it is good. I was not even attacking the government, just giving suggestion how to improve the finance of the government, how to claim our rights and revenue from the collection of the federal government,” said Jeffrey.
He said the state government may claim its rights under the Schedule 10 of the Constitution to recover 40 per cent of the revenue that is collected by the federal government and back to the state.
“This is the Constitution. Imagine 40 per cent of RM40 billion, where this year they are projecting to collect RM40 billion in taxes, which is the nett revenue minus capitation and road grants. Let’s just say the minimum after deducting the two grants that may not even come up to RM5 billion, we will have RM35 billion.
“So 40 per cent from that is RM14 billion, which is additional fund for Sabah plus the RM4 billion they collect from the state government. We can have about RM18 billion in state revenue and it is much better than the RM4 billion we are getting now.
“And the same thing goes with the oil taken from the state, which is taken improperly. I suggested that we request for a review because it is within our rights. We are not asking something that does not belong to us. We can have that and have the right to impose royalty on our own, but royalty was denied to us,” he said.
“Imagine if we collect 10 per cent royalty which belongs to the state as the one they (federal government) paid to us is not oil royalty, because we have been asked to reject our own rights to collect royalty under Section 4 of the Oil Agreement.
“But just imagine if we collect even 10 per cent, and I am not even saying 20 per cent, on our own of the coming production of 500,000 barrels per-day, by 2015 it is three times the amount of what is being produced today in Sabah, which is 170,000 barrels per-day, to which last year, it made RM18.8 billion.
“By 2015, this amount of value will be more than RM50 billion. So with 10 per cent, we can get RM5 billion, and plus the 5 per cent they are giving, that will be RM2.5 billion, and altogether sums up to RM7.5 billion. Add up to the taxes which is RM18 billion, what we have is RM25 to RM26 billion in revenue, and that would be much better for the state so we can carry out much better development and resolve a lot of problems. We do not even have to beg the federal government for money,” he said.