Deputy Rural Development Minister Sivarasa Rasiah came to Kuching last week and said the government wants to implement a new system to manage the payment of salaries to these community leaders.
He said the setting up of Village Community Management Council for Sarawak had been proposed but Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dougglas Unggah responded the next day with a big “NO”.
He said there was no need for the federal government to have a hand in managing community leaders in Sarawak as the state government had its own system to do so.
DAP leaders in Sarawak then responded by saying that community leaders in the state were being controlled by the state government now and pressured into not supporting Federal Government projects due to politics.
While the Federal Government and Sarawak continue their tirade over the management of community leaders, it must be admitted that many community leaders in Sarawak have often been made the “tools” of politicians.
There are more than 10,000 community leaders in this state.
The current practice of appointments to the posts of community leaders by the Sarawak government is rather ad hoc.There is no proper standard way to appoint them.
For example, in Miri that has a population of 350,000, there are only 28 community leaders appointed by the state government to the posts of penghulu, ketua kampung, pemanca and kapitan.
The appointments are based on recommendations from local politicians.
This situation is not healthy as the community leaders may be beholden to the politicians.
There must be a standard format whereby community leaders are appointed based on population ratio and racial composition, not based on political affiliations.
The community leaders must be apolitical.
At the moment, there is simply too much politics involved in the appointment of community leaders.
They are recommended by the state assemblymen and MPs from the state’s ruling component parties, making them political appointees.
More often than not, these community leaders end up playing the political game when they should be serving the community.
Community leaders should be chosen from among those with a good track record of having served the needy and society at large.
Take politics out of the equation.
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