KOTA KINABALU: Karanaan assemblyman, Datuk Masidi Manjun, yesterday challenged Ranau State Reform Party (STAR) divisional head, Jalibin Paidi, to get his facts right before claiming that Ranau could be Sabah’s poorest district.
Jalibin, in his statement two days ago, alleged that Ranau was a district surrounded by poverty stricken districts and could be the poorest State in Sabah.
And yesterday, Masidi challenged Jalibin to back his claim that Ranau is the poorest district with facts and figures.
“Otherwise, he is just another politician who likes to court publicity with sweeping statements,” said Masidi.
He also said that the government has never denied the fact that poor people could be found all over Sabah, including Ranau.
“The government is doing all it can to eradicate hardcore poverty with programmes that are well publicised. However, we are not idealists who like to paint a good picture just to soothe the feelings of the people or make promises which are practically impossible to fulfill,” he said.
He added that there is no easy solution to poverty and he doubts that there could be a thing as total poverty eradication.
Citing an example4, he said that even a rich nation like the United States of America (USA) has a large number of poor people.
Nevertheless, the poor can strive to improve their life and their standard of living, he said.
“It is not impossible. Many have succeeded. But attitude change is necessary. The people themselves must make an effort to help themselves while waiting or getting assistance from the government.
“The government’s poverty eradication aid must be complimented by the people’s strong desire to be removed from the grasp of poverty. Only then, can the government’s objective toward poverty eradication be met,” he said.
He added that the same life principle applies to economic opportunities.
“We can only benefit from economic opportunities if we take part in the industry. Nearly all locals in Ranau own land and these include those who are farming temperate vegetables in Kundasang,” said Masidi.
And if Jalibin is claiming that locals there are not benefitting from the economic opportunities that are present in the district, whether in the form of tourism and agriculture, Masidi urged the STAR divisional head to ask why locals are losing out to outsiders.
“The locals used to own all the agricultural land in Kundasang and its surrounding areas. The Agriculture Department has introduced various assistance to assist local farmers and once upon a time, even KPD focussed on the agricultural development of Kundasang.”
“The problem started when many of the locals began selling their land to outsiders. Today, half of the titled land in Kundasang has been sold to outsiders.
“The new owners developed their land and hired foreigners due to unavailability of local labour. As more land were developed, more workers were needed. They have to hire more foreign workers because only a small number of locals there was keen to work,” he explained.
He elaborated that if outsiders had benefited from the agricultural industry, it was due to their willingness to work hard to till their land to generate income.
And many had become rich, he said.
“So are we blaming the government because non locals have succeeded while most of the locals remain the same? By the way, there are also locals who have succeeded. I hope STAR is not suggesting that we should penalise non-Ranaurians who have worked hard and succeeded.”
As for the tourism industry, Masidi stressed that the same principle applies.
“You need to grab the opportunity to benefit. Don’t wait to be spoon-fed. To say that it did not benefit the locals is an insult to the intelligence of the locals.
“Kg Sinisian is one of the most successful homestays in the country and it generated half a million ringgit revenue last year,” said Masidi.
And his own constituency, Karanaan, has achieved tremendous infrastructure improvement in the last eight years.
“Suffice to say that it takes a politically blind person not to acknowledge tremendous infrastructure improvement that has been achieved in the Karanaan Constituency over the last eight years.
“Over 90 per cent of villages now enjoy electricity supply and I am confident we can achieve 100 per cent soon. Upgrading of major trunk roads is also in progress. There are still more to do, but it cannot be achieved by mere sloganeering or making empty promises. Leadership is about doing what is right not playing to the political gallery with popular rhetorics.”