Sarawak has rejected an apparent bid by Putrajaya to "take over" the administration of its local councils.
Malay Mail reported Chief Minister Abang Johari Abang Openg as saying that this is based on the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963, which placed local councils under Sarawak's jurisdiction.
"Those who made the suggestion were ignorant because they are new in the federal government," he said at a swearing-in ceremony of 750 local councillors in Kuching.
"They just want to tell us that they are in power so they want to take over our local government."
Abang Johari refused to name those who made the suggestion, but said they had recently paid him a visit.
"You know, they were the ones who suggested for local government election to be held. See what happens now?" he added.
The last local government elections in Malaysia took place in 1963. The elections for 1964 and 1965 were suspended with the official reason stated as the confrontation with Indonesia.
Despite Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's opposition to the move, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin aims to make the necessary legislative changes to bring back the third vote by the end of 2020.
'Be wary of Harapan'
Abang Johari also told the local councillors at the event that Harapan could amend the constitution and wrest control of local councils if it wins the Sarawak election, slated for 2021.
He thus reminded them to be “wary” of Harapan leaders when they hit the campaign trail in Sarawak.
“We must defend our rights from being eroded, including the local government,” he was quoted as saying.
The chief minister also announced that the GPS coalition is ready to take on Harapan in the Sarawak election.
"If they want war, then we will go all out to face them.
"If the war does happen, we must get our logistics ready. We must have the correct bullets to ‘shoot’ our target correctly," said the PBB president.
According to Malay Mail, the councillors present at the ceremony – many of whom are grassroots political leaders – were urged to help with preparations for the upcoming electoral tussle.
"You must not let the general fight the battle alone... If the soldiers do not back us, then we will suffer.
"The soldiers and the generals must work together," he said.
Abang Johari declined to specify if his war cry was in response to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim saying that Sarawak Harapan parties should work together to wage "war" against GPS in the polls.