KOTA KINABALU: Kadamaian State Assemblyman Ewon Benedick and Luyang State Assemblyman Phoong Jin Zhe have submitted a special motion for the State Legislative Assembly to strengthen the State Government’s jurisdiction on health issues.
“With the rising Covid-19 cases and fatalities, slow vaccination rates, critical ward facilities, and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) implementation that failed to contain the spread of this pandemic, we feel that the state legislature should be a platform for assemblymen to formulate improvements in the health administration in Sabah.
“Therefore, both of us have submitted a motion under Standing Order 31 (2) so that a new enactment related to disease control in Sabah should be passed and gazetted by the State Legislative Assembly. This will provide better jurisdiction to the State Government in managing this pandemic as well as other health-related matters,” said Ewon and Jin Zhe.
According to them, the Sabah Public Health Ordinance 1960 does not cover matters related to the control of infectious diseases, causing the State Government to not have the authority to implement its own SOP.
“Under List lll – Joint Schedule of the Federal Constitution, matters relating to public health, sanitation and prevention of diseases are Concurrent List for the Federal and State Governments.
“The State Government cannot continue to totally rely on the Federal Government when it has legal space in the constitution to strengthen its own authority.
“If the State Government has this enactment, not only matters related to the gazetting of SOPs can be better managed compared to now, but also health programmes and health infrastructure facilities,” they said.
Both Ewon and Jin Zhe also saying that the State Government can come out with its own health budgets or work out a health budget to be guaranteed by Federal Government so that health infrastructure facilities in the state can be developed better, including management of other health programmes such as outreach vaccinations, mobile doctors and so on.
“We have submitted this motion on August 16, which is the last day to submit a motion for the State Legislature Assembly session originally scheduled for August 24-26 which was postponed to September 21-23. We hope this motion can be debated at the session.
“We also plan to submit special motions in each upcoming state assembly sitting related to issues that matters to the people of Sabah, reform agendas and improvement of the State Government’s autonomy.
“We will discuss this with our fellow Aduns, be it from opposition or government blocs, to make the state assembly the best platform to resolve many outstanding issues in Sabah,” they said.
Ewon is the Vice President of UPKO, while Jin Zhe is the chief of Sabah DAPSY. Both have served in the cabinet of the previous government.