KENINGAU: Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said the party’s youngest candidate would be contesting in either Sook state seat or Pensiangan parliamentary seat in the 14th general election.
“This is because young candidates have the vision and high integrity to bring the grassroots’ voice to the top leadership in line with current political developments,” he told reporters after officiating at presentation of assistance during the rainy season (BMT) to smallholders in the Pensiangan Parliamentary area held at Sook community hall here yesterday.
He said PBRS’s list of candidates would be presented to the Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman who is also Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak and Sabah BN chairman and Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Haji Aman to in the near future evaluate the credibility of selected candidates from PBRS.
Kurup, who is also Pensiangan Member of Parliament, said that although PBRS is a small party its desire to nominate a young candidate was in line with various reforms and aspirations of the people.
Kurup, however, did not reveal the identity of the young candidate it would nominate to contest in either Sook or Pensiangan in GE14.
Earlier in his speech at the event, Kurup, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said the scenario of the rubber industry was uncertain as the price of rubber in the world market was influenced by various factors that directly lead to the uncertain local rubber prices.
He said the main factor was demand and supply. “If the demand for rubber increases but supply is small then the price of rubber will increase, and vice versa,” he explained.
In addition, he said, rubber prices were also influenced by other factors such as the price of other commodity, a substitute for natural rubber such as synthetic rubber, among others.
“In order to overcome this problem, the government has introduced a number of new initiatives such as the pricing mechanism and providing latex collection infrastructure, hence a budget of RM30 million in Budget 2018 to encourage smallholders to increase latex production.
“Promoting the use of rubber blends with bintumen in the construction of roads, to cooperate with other major rubber producing countries such as Thailand and Indonesia; and the implementation of rubber production incentives (IPG).
“These measures are expected to help stabilize prices of low-priced rubber over the past few years and thus provide higher returns to rubber planters,” he said.
Kurup said rubber smallholders can no longer rely on rubber so they need to have a second source of income.
Hence, he said, SRIB should encourage smallholders to venture into entrepreneurship in developing rubber-based downstream industries as a long-term measure such as handicraft, motorcycle spare parts that get high demand in the market.
For example, handicraft based on rubber leaf has commercial value and high prospects for contributing to the country’s income in the future, rubber trees can be used to produce rubber wood furniture whi has high demand in developed countries such as the United States, he said.
“If this downstream industry is being implemented extensively by all smallholders, I believe it will increase the income of smallholders,” he said.
Kurup said a total of 3,649 rubber tappers in Pensiangan were qualified for BMT for a monthly fee of RM200 (one off payment) for three months from November 2017 to January this year.
“We should be thankful and lucky that the Government will continue this BMT in 2018 with the same amount of payment for three (3) months from November 2018 to January 2019.
“This shows the BN government’s concern for smallholders and rubber tappers who cannot tap rubber during the wet monsoon season, and with this aid, the recepients will help to ease their burden and take care of their families’ welfare,” he said.
Also present at the event were SRIB General Manager, Datuk Harris Mathews; Sook Assistant District Officer, Virus Malitam, government officers and community leaders.