Sabah NGOs support call for special federal grants

KOTA KINABALU: Angkatan Perpaduan Sabah (APS) and Pertubuhan Kebudayaan Rumpun Dayak Sabah (PKRDS) fully support the seven Dayak-based non-governmental organisations’ (NGO) call for the Federal Government to review the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and set up special grants for native communities in Sarawak and Sabah, without leaving behind other races.

APS Vice President Paul Kadau said this is also important for the Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus (KDMR) community in Sabah who, like the Dayaks in Sarawak, are still lagging behind in various aspects.

This definitely will also boost the support among the KDMR and Dayak to the present Government at the Federal and State levels if it is done, he said in a statement on Monday.

Paul also urged the KDMR-based NGOs in Sabah to also support and get together with the Dayak-based NGOs in Sarawak in pursuing further this matter, because together they will have a stronger voice to enable change for the betterment of their present and future generations.

“It is time for the natives in Sabah and Sarawak to work together for the betterment our people,” he said, referring to a joint press statement issued by the Dayak-based NGOs who pointed out that the Federal Government has disbursed special grants to the Orang Asli as well as the Indian and Chinese communities, but not to the Dayaks in Sarawak or KDMR in Sabah.

The statement was jointly issued by Dayak Think Tank Association Sarawak, Persatuan Balang Balai Nyabong, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association Miri branch, Persatuan Terabai Menua Sarawak, Persatuan Jaringan Tanah Hak Adat Bangsa Asal Sarawak, Dayak National Congress and Sarawak Iban Association.

They said from the total population in the country, about two million are made up of the Dayak community in Sarawak and KDMR in Sabah.

“We understand there is no special grant from the Federal Government to the Dayaks in Sarawak.

Therefore, we want to get the attention of the Federal Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to set up funding especially for the Dayaks in Sarawak.

“We hope that in Budget 2022 to be tabled this year, the Federal Government will make early preparation by taking into consideration a special grant for the Dayaks in Sarawak,” they said.

The NGOs pointed out that the Dayak community, though the majority race in Sarawak, remains far behind in terms of development compared to other races, and expressed concern that the community would be further left behind if nothing is done to address this.

“The gap is obvious. We also see that development of public facilities such as roads, schools, clinics, communications, clean water, electricity and others in Dayak-majority areas is still far behind. Therefore, we want to get the attention of the Prime Minister to review the promises made during the formation of Malaysia, as stated in MA63, by taking into consideration the balance of development between Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak and Sabah.”

The NGOs stressed the importance of restoring the two Borneo states as equal partners in the federation, as was agreed upon during the country’s formation in 1963, saying this would help strengthen ties between the three regions.

PKRDS also wholeheartedly supports the call for special grants from the Federal Government, made by the seven Sarawak-based civil societies.

Its president, Cleftus Spine Mojingol, said the same special grants given to the Orang Asli, Indians and Chinese in the Peninsular, should be extended also to the Dayak communities or Orang Asal/Natives of Sabah.

“In fact, Sabah and Sarawak, combinedly contributed a large chunk of the Federal budgets, and we here are ever more in need of development funds, grants and so forth from the central government.

“The Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyidin Yassin himself had acknowledged that peoples in Sabah and Sarawak are in fact even further and further left behind by the Peninsular, so the only right thing to do now is to do it now. Do it right, and give us your right hands and include us. Don’t discriminate us,” said Cleftus in a statement today.

He added the call by our Sarawak brothers and sisters for special grants is therefore a timely reminder to the Federal Government not to look the other way when it allocates fund for communities in the Federation.

“The Federal Government now normally tables annual budget to the tune of RM350 billion, and thus it won’t be too much to ask for it to allocate at least RM20 bilion and RM25 billion annually for Sabah and Sarawak respectively, with an addition of RM200 million annually each for the Dayaks in both Borneo states,” he said.

PKRDS and the Dayaks at large believe that if there is a political will in both the Federal and State Governments, this demand is not an impossible one, starting with Budget 2022.

“Please don’t give us lame excuses of a slowing economy due to Covid19 etc, as many of those redundant race-and religious-based agencies would still get allocation to the tune of billion ringgits every year.

“Where is ours? We are Malaysians too,” said Cleftus.