Sunday, April 4, 2010

30pc Sabahans under new poverty index: Harris

If you consider RM1,700 to be the poverty line in KL, the poverty line
in most towns in Sabah is not that far off from RM1,700 so the
percentage of Sabahans that are below the poverty line is much higher
than the official figure of just 16%.

30pc Sabahans under new poverty index: Harris
Published on: Sunday, April 04, 2010
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Tawau: Former Chief Minister Datuk Harris Salleh said Sabah still lags
behind other states in Malaysia after 50 years of independence through
the formation of Malaysia.

He estimated that at least 30 per cent of Sabahans are under the new
poverty index.

There are many Sabahans still living on subsistence income or "kais
pagi makan pagi, kais petang makan petang," he said.

"With the cost and standards of living escalating and with the income
of the people in rural and urban areas only increasing slightly, the
effect means that people will just continue to be poorer and poorer
under the new index of poverty," he said.

He also lamented that the Federal Government has classified people in
Kuala Lumpur earning RM1,700 as poor.

Speaking to 18 members of the Ex-Assemblymen Association during their
visit to Balung here, Saturday, he said these days money is everything
and is required for everything.

Although the rural houses may have been rebuilt or improved by the
Government, at least 15 per cent of these houses have hardly any cash
even as low as RM10 at any one time, he said.

"Vegetables or fruits are hardly being planted around their house
compound. These outside incomes may be from the government contracts
or either their children working in Peninsular Malaysia," he said.

"It appears that the government policies and programmes are not
conductive nor productive in helping these rural people. With the
desires on living the modern lifestyle, these rural people had to sell
off their lands or lease them all at once for 99 years.

"The government stimulus packages and the subsistence on various
consumer goods, that includes the giving of allowance to the hardcore
poor and fishermen. All these do not contribute much to the rural

The stimulus packages are nothing but only benefits the 'negotiated
contractors' and foreign workers.

"Development of infrastructures like schools and medical facilities
does not contribute directly to the income of the rural people," he

With respect to the tourists, Sabah is only getting mostly the budget
tourists but despite this fact, everyone is praising Sabah as a great
tourist product, he said.

"I, on my part, have left many economic activities for Sabah and

For example, the famous 906,330 acres identified and reserved for the
smallholders and the planting of accacia trees. Accacia wood will be
the wood of Sabah for now and the future," he said.

He was also critical of the ex-assemblymen, asking them if they had
achieved anything to change Sabah and Sabahans, particularly the
livelihoods of the people during their respective terms.

"The answer is categorically, no," he said.

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