KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan's Tungku assemblyman Assaffal P. Alian has expressed his frustration over the Sabah State Assembly Speaker's rejection on Thursday (Nov 30) of his appeal under Standing Order 23(1) over the Federal Government's gazette (PU(A)364/2023) dated Nov 24.
In a statement, he said it was a lost opportunity for Sabahan leaders to show solidarity in state matters.
He said it was of urgent public importance to ascertain whether the said gazette tabled in Parliament as ST224/2023 on Wednesday (Nov 29) had actually been assented to by Sabah's Yang di-Pertua Negeri.
"The Speaker should have allowed it since it is about the 40% constitutional entitlement and yesterday was the earliest possible time for this issue to be dealt with in the state assembly.
"Several MPs from the unity government had questioned the gazette in Parliament, but their motion was also rejected by the Speaker for the same 24-hour reason," he said on Friday (Dec 1).
Assaffal stressed that even ordinary Sabah folks are unhappy with the current arrangement in relation to the 40% entitlement as specified in the gazette.
"But when we had the opportunity to show solidarity among our state representatives on the Governor's assent to the gazette, our own state assembly shut us off.
"My question would have necessitated the state Cabinet to answer because amending any financial arrangement between both governments, as per Article 161E(2)(c) of the Federal Constitution, requires the Head of State's assent.
"The onus is on the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) state government to provide confirmation that the amendment is done in a proper manner in view that the Federal Gazette (PU(A) 364/2023) stated that the payment is not based on the 40% formula but being replaced instead with the similar 'mean' wording that can be found in Federal Gazette PU(A) 119/2022 albeit with different amount.
"As a response to the public outcry, Warisan attempted to use Standing Order 23(1) to obtain answers on this matter and with Article 6(6) of Sabah's Constitution, it is necessary for the state Cabinet ministers to provide their answers to the state assembly when asked for confirmation.
"However, I believe GRS may have been taken by surprise with our question so perhaps that is the reason why the Speaker rejected it.
"I was hoping that someone from the government's bench would stand up and second my appeal but they remained quiet so it seems to me that I was wrong to believe that they prioritise Sabah's rights above their political agenda," he elaborated.
Assaffal also believed that this gazette was an attempt to reduce the relevance of the up-coming judicial review filed by the Sabah Law Society (SLS) to make the association accountable should they fail to uphold the Sabah 40% in court next year.
"Personally, it's too much of a coincidence for this to happen ... GRS can rebuke, rebut or even deny my belief but the fact remains that they have wasted the opportunity to explain in the state assembly when we asked for answers.
"Rather than supporting the urgent matter standing order, they opted to continue sitting quietly down thus shutting us all off," he concluded.