Call for an overall review of Federal-State relations in Malaysia to effect greater decentralisation and confer greater autonomy from Putrajaya to all state governments, not just Sarawak and Sabah


September 16, Malaysia Day, was marred by the Red Shirts Malay rally organised by UMNO, although it did not officially showed its hand at the time and which, among other things, desecrated the meaing and importance of Malaysia Day as the foremost national public holiday in the country.

Sarawak and Sabah cannot but feel slighted that on Malaysia Day, UMNO had chosen to devalue Malaysia Day by sponsoring a Red Shirts Malay rally in Kuala Lumpur which not only stole the national and international spotlight from the 52nd anniversary of Malaysia’s formation, the federation of Malaysia was at best a second-thought after the primacy of Ketuanan Melayu of UMNO leaders.

However, Malaysia Day this year was a bit different from Malaysia Day of the past five decades, primarily because it is beginning to sink in among the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and UMNO leaders and they owe their continued political rule of the country to the support and loyalty of the Members of Parliament in Sarawak and Sabah, as without the support of the 48 Barisan Nasional MPs in Sabah and Sarawak, Najib will not be Prime Minister of Malaysia today nor could UNMO continue as “Big Brother” in the Federal Government in Putrajaya.

With the approaching Sarawak State Government Elections in a matter of months and the 14th General Elections in the next 24 to 32 months, Sarawak and Sabah would expect a New Deal from Putrajaya to continue to be the fixed deposit states of the UMNO/BN coalition government in Putrajaya and this is the reason for all the talk about granting greater autonomy to Sarawak and Sabah in recent days.

However, the issue of decentralisation and devolution of powers and the granting of greater autonomy to the state governments should not be confined to Sarawak and Sabah but should apply to all states in Malaysia.

There is no doubt that in the 58 years after Merdeka and 52 years after Malaysia, there had been too much concentration of power at two levels, firstly, in the hands of the Executive and ultimately the Prime Minister at the expense of the other two branches of government, the Legislature and the Judiciary; and secondly, in the hands of the Federal Government at the expense of the state governments.

At present, the Prime Minister’s Office has 10 Ministers with a budget of some RM19 billion – when during Merdeka in 1957, the Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Cabinet had only 10 Ministers (as compared to 36 Ministers in the current Najib Cabinet), and the budget of the Prime Minister’s office is more than 20 times that of the Federal Budget in 1957 which did not even reach RM1 billion. The total Federal budget every year is in the region of RM270 billion.

Malaysia needs a leaner and more efficient Cabinet, and efficiency and competence will not suffer if the number of 10 Ministers in the Prime Minister’s and the budget of the Prime Minister’s Office of some RM19 billion are both halved to five Ministers and not more than RM10 billion. Furthermore, the 36-strong Najib Cabinet can be productively pruned to half, i.e. five Ministes while the 36-Minister Cabinet can be productively slashed by half or having not more 20 Ministers!

Overall, the time has come for a comprehensived review of Federal-State relations in Malaysia to effect greater decentralisation and confer greater autonomy from Putrajaya to all state governments, not just Sarawak and Sabah.

This should be a major issue for Malaysians in the 14th General Elections.

[Speech (2) at the DAP Kuala Terengganu Branch “Ceramah Perdana Isu-Isu Semasa” held at Dataran Pulau Warisan, Kampung Cina, Kuala Terengganu on Monday, Sept. 21, 2013 at 10 pm]

Print Friendly

  1. #1 by worldpress on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 - 9:14 pm

    Chinese, india racial are not problem as they are economic animal, they would not use keris, or silat threaten people to gain economic or demand shares.
    For you racial is very terrible big problem, many on the top get used manipulate people with racial show violence to threaten and quiet those exposed corruption who demand jail those corrupted leaders. Use racial to protect leaders who get used to tell lie to cheat and steal!

  2. #2 by good coolie on Tuesday, 22 September 2015 - 11:39 pm

    Very interesting! Our poorer cousins are starting to have a say in the running of the country. Best wishes to them, because no harm can come out of taking down UMNO Baru in the Peninsula a peg or two. At least the East Malaysians leaders are more cosmopolitan and just than their counterparts in the Peninsula.
    After so many years, the Pan Borneo highway that was promised for years, but never delivered, is going to be built. My advice to our poorer cousins: beware always, and don’t ever let go of your hold on the leg.

  3. #3 by tmc on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 - 8:29 am

    The Pakatan Harapan pact is useless, why announce Anwar will be the PM if GE14 is won by the oppo. Anwar’s shelf life is fading, more dynamic leaders with healing touches out there. Why put anchors on yourselves even before the ship sets sail.

  4. #4 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 23 September 2015 - 9:02 am

    Its not just decentralisation of power to the state that is needed, the Federal Govt has to do what it fails to do at its own level – strengten institutional check and balance – if they just give power to the states – the BN state and local govt leaders will just increase their corruption and abuse and nothing much really get to the people too..

    The problem is also the Federal Institutions does a poor job of check and balance on itself, so it has no clue how to check and balance the state govt if it decentralize its power..

You must be logged in to post a comment.