Debate speech by See Chee How, State Assemblyman for Batu Lintang, on 23rd day of June, 2011 on the Motion to Appreciate the TYT’s Address delivered on 21 June 2011
Dato Sri Speaker,
Thank you for allowing me to participate in this debate on the Motion of appreciation to his Excellency Tuan Yang Terutama Yang Di Pertua Negeri’s Address on 21st June, 2011 and at the same time to raise some issues in this August House.
I am grateful to the voters of Batu Lintang for electing me to this House. I have given my solemn oath in this legendary Dewan to discharge my duties and serve to the best of my ability, the interests of the state and the country. I am proud of it, to represent the constituents in Batu Lintang who have all registered their faith in our Pakatan Rakyat, as the way forward for this great state and country that we all loved.
Dato Sri Speaker, it is undoubted that the BN had scored a huge victory at the just concluded Sarawak State Election. To that, I congratulate YAB and his BN team.
However, it is also an irrefutable fact that the Oppositions had scored a resounding victory of securing 45% of the popular votes polled. Had the democratic principle of one constituent one vote be followed and practiced, the Opposition should have won 31 seats in this Honourable Dewan.
The 2-coalitions system has now taken shape and Sarawak has certainly progressed in our democratic process.
But, I am not here to advocate different and hostile political support and interests of the BN and Pakatan. In fact, as a new member, I have much and am eager to learn from senior members of this Honourable Dewan, the Honourable members on both side of the political divide.
Indeed, I am guided by the time honoured statement of Edmund Burke (1729 – 1797), the British statesman and philosopher, who said, and I quote:
“Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament.”
I was henceforth, disappointed and annoyed when my question 3 submitted to this Honourable Dewan, was rejected on the ground that I am unable to substantiate the statement made in my question.
Dato Sri Speaker, nobody has ever asked me to substantiate whatever statement that I have made in my question No. 3.
In rejecting my question on such a ground, the charge proffered and framed against me was serious, and the sentence was passed without giving me a chance to defend myself. This, should not have happened to any Honourable member of this Dewan.
I am not being personal, contrary to deliberate suspicion and doubt of certain quarters. In fact, I was being told by my sources that Yang Amat Berhormat the honourable member of Balingian was not aware of the matter.
In all sincerity, I am raising the matter as a member of this honourable Dewan, in the interests of the state, to inculcate good governance
Dato Sri Speaker, any right thinking person would be alarmed, to notice particulars of the timber licenses as follows:-
1. Timber Licence T/8487 issued on 21 March 2011 over the NCR Land at Lemanak Area, Lubok Antu, with a concession area of 3,281 ha;
2. Timber Licence T/8493 issued on 25 March 2011 over the Stateland at Batang Ai / Sg Engkari area within Batang Ai Catchment, with a concession area of 830 ha;
3. Timber Licence T/8492 issued on 25 March 2011 over the catchment area and NCR land measuring 2,250 ha adjoining T/8493;
4. Timber Licence T/3568 issued on 11 April 2011 over the Stateland at Sg Dangap/Sg Bian area in Pakan District, with a concession area of 3,367 ha;
5. Timber Licence T/8497 issued on 14 April 2011 over the Stateland between Sg Tu and Sg Sangang at the west side of Sg Sarawak Kiri, which is the Bengoh water catchment area, with a concession area of 2,612 ha;
Then, we have T/8496, next to the Bengoh timber concession area covered under T/8497, T/3567 in Balai Ringin, T/3561 and T/3566 in Kanowit and T/9181 in Bakong.
It is understood that there are more than these aforesaid timber licenses being issued in between the time when the previous State Assembly was dissolved on 21 March 2011 and polling on 16 April 2011.
Besides the improper timing in the issuance of the timber licences, it is blatant contravention of our laws to issue timber concession licences over water catchment areas and known NCR lands. Credibility, Accountability and Transparency, which are the hallmarks of good governance, as the state governments of Selangor, Penang, Kelantan and Kedah have shown, are what we aspired. And it is based on these sound principles of governance that this Dewan demands answers from the government of the day.
As I have said earlier, it appears so, and I was quite relieved when I researched into the background of the companies and concession holders that I am not looking at one particular person and or his family. I therefore urge that Ahli Yang Amat Berhormat the Chief Minister would look into this matter and enlighten us as to his findings.
Dato Sri Speaker, I therefore hold firm in my belief that my Question 3 is proper and justified. And I raised the question to uphold the interests of the people of Sarawak, the constitution and the laws of Sarawak and Malaysia, as we have sworn to perform and achieve as honourable members of this Dewan.
Dato Sri Speaker, when we stand up and speak in this Honourable Dewan, it is my respectful opinion that we should not be deem to be advocating different and hostile political interests of the BN and Pakatan Rakyat.
Indeed, for the general good of all Sarawakians, and Malaysians, we should be able to work together, complement each others, despite our different political affiliations.
In the run-up to the recently concluded state election, the honourable Prime Minister had made election pledges in excess of RM600 million, to voters in various parts of Sarawak. On the other hand, the honourable Deputy Prime Minister announced projects to the tune of RM200 million. And it has just being revealed in the parliament that a total of 62 projects and programmes were promised, with an aggregate worth of RM1.18 billion.
Two months have passed, and 2 months of deafening silence from the country’s top 2 leaders as to the realization of the election pledges.
It therefore called upon us, from both sides of the political divide, to work together, to accelerate the delivery of these election pledges, in the interests of all Sarawakians.
Our combine commitments and dedication will certainly make this motherland a great and model democracy.
And there are friends of Sarawak who are eager to and tirelessly contributing towards the democratization and conscientization of our state and all our rakyat.
It therefore calls to questions, the “Not To Land” orders which were slapped on exemplary fellow Malaysians personalities such as former Bar Council President Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, university lecturer Dr Wong Chin Huat, lawyer activist Haris Ibrahim, human rights and social activists Ong Boon Kiong, Steven Ng, Cynthia Gabriel, Jerald Gomez, Colin Nicholas, Dr Kua Kia Soong, and many others including even Member of Parliament Sdr Sivarasa Rasiah.
This certainly reflected badly on the state’s governance.
Dato Sri Speaker, our state’s lack of resolve to address the sexual harassment of Penan women and young girls and violation of their rights is another matter subjecting us to unrelenting international criticisms.
Last month, 7 May to be exact, another letter was written by the coalition of Malaysian NGOs, the Penan Support Group together with other women’s rights NGOs, addressing to the UN Special Rapportuer on Violence against Women and the UN Special Rapportuer on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous Peoples.
The following are factual:-
- 1995 – First known case of rape of Penan young woman reported to police;
- The 2009 Federal Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development’s Task Force Report confirmed that sexual violence and exploitation of Penan women and young girls in Sarawak occurred;
- The Ministerial Task Force was set up in response to the public outcry which was resulted after the local and national newspapers reported on the matter;
- Regional and Malaysian NGO Fact Finding Mission recorded seven new allegations of sexual violence in July 2010;
- May 2011, a Penan woman reported rape to the police;
Facts about the situation of the Penan:
- Nothing has changed regarding the situation placing young girls and women in rural areas vulnerable to sexual violence;
- More reports of rape are surfacing to indicate the utter neglect of the government to protect one of the most marginalized communities in Sarawak;
- Through the state governments of Selangor and Penang, a car specifically dedicated to transporting school children, one of the identified group of Penan rape survivors, is the only known change dedicated to prevent sexual violence. However, it is a fact that one vehicle is grossly inadequate to cover all needed settlements;
Where Good Governance is needed:
- Dedicate a special task force to demonstrate the seriousness of the government in protecting vulnerable Sarawakians from hideous crime of rape;
- Immediate implementation and follow-up with the recommendations set forth by the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development’s Task Force Report on sexual violence and exploitation of Penan women and young girls in Sarawak;
- Working with communities and other stakeholders to address the specific issues of rape in rural areas;
- Legislate to ensure structural changes are in place to protect girls and women from all form of harm; and
- Courageous and righteous, and expected to lead by rising beyond party politics in defending the rights of all Sarawakians, especially those most marginalized and in the specific rapes, to demonstrate the government’s duty-bound to act on solving problems and ultimately to prevent sexual harassment and violation from happening in rural Sarawak.
We want to know, what are the state government’s efforts and to what extents have the state ministries and agencies corroborated assisted and working together with the Federal Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to ensure that the recommendations arising from the Federal cabinet’s National Task Force Report, released in September 2009 (Laporan Jawatankuasa Bertindak Peringkat Kebangsaan Bagi Menyiasat Dakwaan Penderaan Seksual Terhadap Wanita Kaum Penan Di Sarawak), are implemented.
And specifically, we are hopeful that the honourable minister will enlighten us as to the total federal and state allocation, for 2008 to 2011 respectively, to fund the transportation of Penan students to and from their schools, the names of the Penan settlements and the number of students provided with transportation to such primary and secondary schools, and the number of trips provided each year.
Dato Sri Speaker, we are not living in a perfect world. However, if all the honourable members of this Dewan put our minds and acts together, if we discard our political differences and hostility, if we look at the collective interests and wellness of the state and the people, we can make Sarawak a better place for us and our future generations to live.
In conclusion, Dato Sri Speaker, I would like to volunteer and offer the Pakatan Rakyat’s policies and programmes which are necessary to bring the country and the state forward. I would therefore recommend the Buku Jingga to all honourable members of this House.