Kamal Mat Salih unfortunate victim of Putrajaya’s arrogance, Wan Junaidi claims

MIER chairman Tan Sri Dr Kamal Salih speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur October 1, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
MIER chairman Tan Sri Dr Kamal Salih speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur October 1, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUCHING, Jan 6 — Santubong MP Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar today said the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) chairman Tan Sri Dr Kamal Mat Salih has become an unfortunate victim to the federal government’s arrogance and lack of consideration as to proper behaviour.

He said Kamal is right to tender his resignation as Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) board chairman which has invited so much political controversy in Sarawak.

“As the board chairman, he was expected to work and maintain cordial relationship with the state administration and cooperation of the people in Sarawak.

“Under the present environment, it would be very difficult for him,” Wan Junaidi, a former federal minister in the previous Barisan Nasional government said when asked to comment on Kamal’s resignation today, five days after he assumed the chairmanship.

“This incident teaches the federal authority a good lesson by not abandoning the conventional practice in the state,” he said.

Wan Junaidi believed that Kamal’s appointment was obviously based on his credentials and varied backgrounds as a policy advisor, economist and education administrator.

“He is well known and respect in and outside the government. His academic, education and economic records speak well of his credentials,” he said.

But Wan Junaidi said there are obvious problems to Kamal’s appointment as Unimas board chairman, one of which is that the post has always been held by a Sarawakian and secondly, the appointing authority did not show respect to the state when making the appointment.  

“Thirdly, the high-handed way the appointment was made by Putrajaya has angered a lot of Sarawakians,” he said.

Wan Junaidi said he personally knew Kamal when he was MP of Wangsa Maju from 1995 to 1999.

He said he was in a committee consisting of five MPs, which Kamal chaired, conducting research into the SPM and STPM drop-outs and to plan for their future.

“In less than a year, he came up with two volumes of about 340 pages each of research papers to be presented to the government.

“It was adopted by government and tabled in the Budget speech of the Minister of Finance in 1998 for approval of the programme, which was later known as the community college,” he said, adding that the programme was approved by Parliament in 1999.

He said the college catered to the needs of students who could not get admission to institutions of higher learning.

Meanwhile, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said it was honourable of Kamal to resign as board chairman amid criticism in Sarawak.

“This is what people should do when they are faced with heavy criticisms. It was a pity that the Standard Operating Procedure was not followed when the federal government appointed Kamal,” he said.