KENINGAU: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said Sabah had undergone enormous changes in social development and economic progress over the last 52 years.
Sabah’s poverty rate was reduced from 58.3 percent in 1970 to 19.7 percent in 2009.
“This shows that the Barisan Nasional government was very serious in addressing the poverty problem in Sabah’s urban and rural areas,” he said when launching the “Focused Group Discussion Improving Socio-Economic Development of Youth and Women in Keningau: How It Can Be Done” at Perkasa Hotel here yesterday.
Kurup said in the 2016 national budget which was presented by the Prime Minister recently, the government was focusing on improving the living standards of B40 households throughout the country.
He said Tekun Nasional would provide RM600 million comprising RM500 million for Bumiputera entrepreneurs in addition to RM200 million to existing funds for Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) for the micro financial facility to B40 households.
“To enhance the skills of the rural people, a total of RM50 million is allocated to the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development for skills and career training and income enhancement programs.
“Through both programs, participants will gain skills training and also help in the form of assets and raw materials.
“The government will also provide RM100 million to the private skills training institutes and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to enhance the skills of B40 to get a job or start a business,” he said.
Kurup said natural resources and rich cultural heritage, and the availability of labour among the young group were factors that could contribute to more rapid development of the state.
Although Sabah had enjoyed progress, he said there was concern that inclusive participation and equality should be an important component in the provision of broader socio-economy and political policies.
Kurup understood that the presentation delivered by Associate Professor Dr Madeline Berma from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and followed by discussions to provide focus on three key areas to stimulate socio-economic development, the challenges to get a job in this country and how the youth in this district could get involved more effectively and contribute to the socio-economic development in the state.
He hoped that the “Focused Group Discussion” session yesterday set an agenda to strengthen and reinforce the role of women in the political, religious, social, economic and cultural areas.
In other words, he said women should be integrated into the mainstream of development through the strengthening of knowledge and the latest technology.
Kurup, who is also Pensiangan member of parliament, said what was important was to determine the goals of equality and a change in mindset at all levels in order not to put women as second class or underprivileged.
He said there was a need for women to be free of cultural backward shackle and take a bold step to move forward.
Over 100 people, including government officials, NGOs, associations of women and youth and community leaders attended the session organized jointly by the Department of National Unity and Integration (JPNIN) and the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI).
Also present at the one-day session were State JPNIN director Mrs Delin Liet Belaun, district police chief DSP Douglas Nyeging Taong and officials of JPNIN and ASLI.