KUCHING: Sarawak is seeking administrative autonomy and more funding in healthcare from the Federal Government in order to serve the people better and meet local needs.
State Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said administrative autonomy meant Sarawak would be able to make decisions on health-related matters such as where to build hospitals and the number of specialists needed.
He said the national norms used in such decision-making could not be applied to Sarawak as the state was equivalent in size to Peninsular Malaysia but had a much smaller and scattered population.
"For example, if you drive two hours on the North-South Highway, you will reach another big hospital, but driving two hours in Sarawak will not get you to another town.
"That's why we want to take control of our own administrative power, our own planning, our own post creation, and we want them to give us the funding for it," he told reporters after opening the Malaysian Institute of Medical Laboratory Sciences' 30th national scientific conference here on Monday (Oct 7).
Dr Sim said the requests for administrative autonomy and funding were raised during a discussion with the Health Ministry under the Malaysia Agreement 1963's task force last week.
He also said Sarawak needed to anticipate the number of specialists such as neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons needed once the Pan Borneo Highway is completed in 2021.
"In Peninsular Malaysia, you have so many neurosurgeons and orthopaedic surgeons. For Sarawak, we need the specialists to be around once the Pan Borneo Highway is ready.
"We told them that means we need more resources. We don't need big hospitals like in the peninsula because we don't have so many people, but we need to have more hospitals with specialists so that we can cover the whole state," he said.