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New Comprehensive Plan Needed to Tackle Poverty – Dr. Jeffrey

Kota Kinabalu: “The federal and Sabah governments failed again and was given a failing “F” grade by the United Nations which reported that poverty among children in Sabah was the highest in Malaysia where 31% of the children in the state were living in poverty.  It’s extraordinarily high compared to the national average of 9% and more than double that of the next highest Kelantan at 15% with Selangor performing the best with 2%” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief in response to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Report “Profile of Children in Malaysia”

The report should be sending SOS warning signals to the Sabah government but unfortunately none of the Umno/BN parties and not a single Sabah Umno/BN leader have dared to say a single word.   

“Where is the chest-thumping self-boasting Ministers and the government telling how well they have been doing to tackle poverty in Sabah and reeling off statistics to support their chest-thumping? asked Dr. Jeffrey.

This deafening silence does not augur well for children in Sabah.   Lest we forget, in the recent past, a child student committed suicide because of the problems faced by his family’s poverty.

The governments and Ministers right down to the people in Sabah need to shed off their “easy-to-please” mentality and look at problems in the eye and not be deflected by cheap publicity, self-praising and self-serving local reports.

The UNICEF Report is the second report following the PM Department’s own EPU Report that the poverty levels are chronic in Sabah with 53.5% of the abject poor households and 39.3% in the poor household category in the nation while Sarawak accounted for 11.4% and 11.7% respectively.  

Saying that we have reduced poverty from such and such a percentage to a lower percentage does not detract from the fact that poverty is still chronic in Sabah.

To digress a bit, the recent boasts of the reduction of SESB’s SAIDI from 2,867 minutes/customer in 2009 to 557 minutes/customer in 2012 and followed by SESB’s boast that the number of complaints on electricity disruptions in Sabah fell six per cent up to November this year from 23,747 complaints compared with 25,298 complaints in the same period last year.

“Whatever the reasons, the SAIDI should be ZERO and complaints on electricity disruptions should be ZERO!” stressed Dr. Jeffrey.   “Isn’t 23,747 complaints excessively high?” he added.

Therefore, Sabahans need to change their mindset and not accept blindly what their BN government tells them.

The poverty levels shown by the PM Department’s EPU Report and the UNICEF Report only re-affirms what everyone else in Sabah knows except the ruling Umno/BN government and their Umno/BN leaders.

The Sabah government and their Ministers should now accept their failures in failing to tackle the poverty problem in Sabah and face the problem head-on.  They should not wait for another child student to commit suicide, pray that such tragedy do not recur, before taking action.

The Sabah and federal governments should open their hearts and minds and adopt a new and fresh holistic approach and come up with an entirely new and comprehensive plan to tackle poverty in Sabah.   

They should no longer use this poverty problem to keep the people poor so as to achieve their political goals.    To tackle the poverty problem whole-heartedly, they should invite people across the political divide including the opposition members to form a bi-partisan State Assembly Select Committee to help formulate the new comprehensive plan and to oversee the government programs to resolve the poverty problems in Sabah.

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