A bogus autonomy argument is currently raging, focused on who should appoint Sarawak’s local community leaders and headmen. So let us be clear: in a democratic system local leaders should be elected by the communities themselves.
It is a disgrace that the political parties in control of the present Sarawak state government continue to seek to control communities (in order to best exploit them and remain for ever in office) by choosing the most compliant and unscrupulous individuals (often relatives of the local MP) to be headmen and then paying them to be obedient.
Just one of the many disgraceful consequences of this has been the recent jaw-dropping orders to these subservient headmen to prevent representatives of the ruling federal government and political parties from entering their longhouses.
Of course, Taib’s henchmen got away with this for years when such canvassers were from the opposition and it is a sign of the level of the GPS seige mentality that the state government is now formenting such outright civil disobedience now that their corrupt partners of the past decades are out of office.
In the same way that desperate UMNO has teamed up with the extremist trouble-makers of present day PAS these isolated and diminished kleptocrats of Sarawak (and ex-UMNO allies) are seeking to play on Sarawakian national sentiment by posing as ‘champions of automy’.
Sarawakians should use their heads and remember that it is in fact Taib/GPS who have acted as the agents of KL for decades, co-opting a few local leaders and making them rich at the expense of their communities.
Autonomy was a bluff as Taib and his uncle had handed over Sarawak’s oil in return for being allowed to plunder the timber and act like local dictators without further interference from their allies in UMNO.
In the process these local kleptocrats have stacked up a list of thefts and crimes that completly outclass the charges facing the likes of Najib now in the federal courts. They are now fearful of retribution and they are fearful of fair elections that might open the door to them being investigated.
However, unreasonable behaviour invites a response and this week’s announcement by Rural Affairs Minister R.Sivarasa that the federal government will sponsor headmen who have indeed been elected by their own communities and not appointed by Taib’s men is absolutely the demoncratic solution:
“There are many cases of ‘tuai rumah’ (longhouse chiefs) who were elected but not appointed by the state government.
“We will go back to that [original] model and appoint the leader who has the support of the people. I think that’s the best way forward,” he said. [R Sivarasa – The Star]
If the state government wants to pay the salaries of community elected headmen instead, then so much the better.
However, the present excuse of Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah that the state government appoints headmen because it has to pay their salaries is hogwash. He should remember that it is the wealth of the people that has furnished his own lifestyle and salary and it is they who are paying for these headmen and not him.