Sarawak DAP chairman cries foul after being stopped midway during state assembly debate

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 07 Nov 2019

KUCHING: Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen (pic) has accused the ruling Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) coalition of "politics of bullying" after he was stopped halfway while debating the state budget in the Sarawak Legislative Assembly on Thursday (Nov 7).

The Kota Sentosa assemblyman was questioning the proposed alternative financing model for allocations above the budgeted development expenditure for 2020 when he was interrupted by GPS backbenchers shouting about Pakatan Harapan's unfulfilled promises.

As the uproar continued, Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar terminated Chong's debate under Standing Order 52(11).

"Because you made outrageous statements that provoked them to react, this standing order allows me to disallow the continuation of the debate. It cannot go on because the continuation of the debate will give rise to breaches of the standing orders," Asfia said.

Speaking to reporters later, Chong said this was a "manifestation of the politics of bullying".

"Instead of controlling the GPS representatives, who were shouting on a matter that was not even relevant to what I was saying, the Speaker stopped my debate halfway. This is utterly unacceptable.

"The Speaker is just a tool of GPS to bully the minority in the state assembly," he said.

Before he was stopped from speaking, Chong raised the issue of allocations for several key strategic initiatives in the 2020 state budget which added up to more than double the RM6.597bil proposed for development expenditure.

For instance, he said, RM13.357bil was allocated for accelerating development in rural areas, RM3.742bil for water and electricity supply projects and RM400mil for digital economy initiatives.

"For these three initiatives, the allocations total over RM16.5bil, but the development expenditure is only RM6.5bil. Where is the additional RM10bil coming from?" he asked.

Chong also raised concerns about the proposed alternative financing model of raising the additional funds from the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS), which he said would incur huge debts for the state government.

"To me, this is off-budget accounting or off-balance sheet financing, where the government guarantees payment of loans without the amount of debt appearing in the state balance sheet.

"This is the same modus operandi as 1MDB. I urge the state government and the Chief Minister to come clean on this," he said.

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