THE federal-state special committee, which was set up to look into federal-state relations faced by Penang, has submitted its interim report to the Penang government.
The interim report, entitled ‘Enabling Decentralisation and Improving Federal-State Relations in the Federation of Malaysia’, included the recommendations for enabling decentralisation.
Academician Dr Francis Loh, Bukit Tengah assemblyman Gooi Hsiao-Leong and Penang Institute Datuk Dr Ooi Kee Beng led the federal-state special committee.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the interim report and its recommendations point towards the creation of a common platform for all states in Malaysia to collaborate in restructuring federal-state relations and to help realise the full potential of the federalist structure.
“The call to decentralise power back to the state in the areas of public transportation, social services, agriculture, environment and a fairer distribution of allocations to the states was listed as one of the 2018 Pakatan Harapan manifesto promises.
“The need for federal devolution as well as the re-thinking and restructuring of federal-state relations have become increasingly important, now with the political uncertainties experienced in the recent years along with the challenges faced by Malaysians during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This federal-state special committee will be studying the strategic methods and systems to realise a more equitable distribution of resources from the Federal to the state.
“The Penang government demands a fairer treatment in terms of allocations from Putrajaya.
“It must be noted that Penang only received RM996 million or 1.3% of the total RM75.6 billion Federal allocation for development.
“Considering Penang’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the past three years, which was between 6.7% and 6.9%, the state should have received an allocation of RM5.2 billion in the 2022 Budget.
“We are adamant on realising more effective and fairer federal-state relations,” Chow told a media conference at the State Legislative Assembly building today.
Also present were Dr Loh, Gooi and Dr Ooi.
In general, the interim report mentioned three recommendations for enabling decentralisation.
Firstly, the establishment of a national Federal-State Relations Commission to examine and review in its entirety the working arrangements between the Federal Government and the states relating to powers, functions and responsibilities on all legislative, administrative, financial, and socioeconomic matters within the constitutional framework.
The terms of reference and the composition of this Commission should reflect the general needs and aspirations of the states.
Secondly, the initiative to establish an All-States Collaboration Committee.
The purpose of the Committee will be to enhance both formal and informal cooperation and consensus-building among the states to further their shared interests and to develop mechanisms to coordinate their collective response to federal-state issues.
And thirdly, the Penang State Legislative Assembly should inaugurate a Standing or a Select Committee to manage federal-state relations concretely.
This Federal-State Relations Improvement Committee will inquire into and report on matters concerning all operational and administrative working arrangements between Federal and state government agencies, on finance, health, social welfare, education, road works, disaster management, flood mitigation, trade and industry, the civil service, and so on.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Adleena Rahayu Ahmad Radzi
Video by Ahmad Adil Muhamad