KUCHING, Jan 24, 2016:

Laws unique to Sarawak may not be understood in Putrajaya.

Sarawak Advocates Association President Leonard Shim said currently most of the offences under state ordinances needed to be referred to Putrajaya before the cases could proceed.

“This is one of the red tapes that we face when it relates to the state ordinances,” said Shim to The Rakyat Post recently.

Authorising state legal officers to prosecute offences under state ordinances is one of the administrative matters agreed to in the Devolution of Power talks between the state and federal government.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem led a high-level talk with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Wednesday at Wisma Putra, the first of a three-phase discussion on the matter.

Present were Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa, Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, State Secretary Tan Sri Mohamad Morshidi Abdul Ghani and State Attorney-General Datuk Abdul Razak Mohamad Tready.

Laws that are unique to the state include Sarawak’s Natural Resources and Environment Ordinance, Wildlife Ordinance, Forestry Ordinance, Sarawak Land Code and Sarawak Housing Ordinance.

“These laws have specific provisions that are well understood here but are sometimes alien at the federal level. But having to refer it to someone who does not understand the law may be like hitting a brick wall and some of our ordinances are even older than the country itself,” said Shim.

For example, the Sarawak Forestry Ordinance, gazetted in 1953, was enacted to provide protection and management of the state’s forests and to regulate the extraction of forest produce.

Shim lauded the move saying that it would help to improve the state’s legislation but cautioned that extra powers would mean nothing if there was no financial provision.

“Basically, this will mean more work has to be done, but without the right budget allocations, it will fall back to square one,” Shim added.

Adenan revealed the details of the 13 points of the talk on Thursday, which covered administrative measures under the Devolution of Powers.

The second phase of the talks covers encroachment of powers by the federal government, pertaining to tourism, resources and environment while the third phase will touch on financial issues such as oil and gas royalties.

Adenan also said some of the matters could be implemented immediately but most of the transition would take some time.

Among the immediate changes are the provision of 100 new posts in Sarawak’s Immigration Department with full deployment by the end of February, the increase in the number of Sarawak-born teachers to 90% in the state from now till 2018 as well as the amalgamation of federal and state Social Welfare Departments.

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