Committee formed to identify urban poor Ibans in Kuching

Uggah (fourth left) striking a gong to symbolically launch the fundraising dinner as others look on. Standing directly behind him is Aaron and Rowenna.

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KUCHING, April 28: A committee of Iban community leaders has been formed to identify urban poor Ibans in Kuching.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said they were now still identifying those concerned in their respective areas.

“We have one Temenggong, one Pemanca, seven Penghulus and a number of Tuai Rumah who are involved,” he said when officiating at a fundraising dinner organised by the Christ Baptist (SIB) Church here.

“We want them to identify those who need our help. We want to know their problems and how best we can help them.”

Uggah added that there were many fortunate Ibans who have better lives, have their own houses and their children were doing very well.

“They can compete with the rest of the communities in the city,” he said.

“On the other hand, we have the unfortunate ones, (such as) the squatters and their children who are victims of their circumstances,” he noted.

Uggah disclosed that a church-going friend has been doing noble charity works whereby they will organise a gathering at a location in Tabuan for about 100 people, mainly Iban children, every weekend.

He noted that among these children, some were truants and have drug or alcohol problems while some faced livelihood issues.

“So this lady and her group will take care of them, bringing them closer to Christ in the hope they will change and can have a much better future life,” he said.

Uggah also shared that he was surprised to learn of a voluntary food kitchen that was set up by an organisation which was feeding some 300 people, many of them Ibans, on a weekly basis.

For the squatters, he noted that they were located near riverbanks and in places close to graveyards.

“We are looking at the lists to come up with the appropriate action plan,” he said.

Uggah however gave assurance that there were many facilities and and programmes from both the government and the private sector available to help them.

“For instance, we have aid programmes in agriculture, education, welfare and in business start-ups. I would like for us all, including the churches, to pool our resources together to help them,” he urged those present.

He commended Christ Baptist Church for doing its part, especially in conducting kindergarten classes for its members’ children.

“You are doing a very noble job in preparing the young children to have better education. As it is, with better education one can have a better quality of life later,” he said.

He suggested that the church also extended its roles to helping members in going into income-generating economic activities.

He then announced a grant of RM30,000 for the fundraising drive.

On another issue, Uggah who is the chairman of the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), called on the public to be vigilant against those with extreme racial or religious views in their midst.

“They will try to poison our minds, pitting us against each other. We must preserve the existing racial and religious harmony as well as unity that we have enjoyed at all cost,” he advised those present.

“We have no such destructive issues in the state so far. So let us focus on strengthening our solidarity in helping our people and our state and country to be more progressive,” he said.

He then announced a grant of RM400,000 for the church and its kindergarten extension fund.

Kanowit Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Aaron Dagang and his wife Datin Rowenna Ping as well as dinner organising chairman Elder Jimbai Majang were among those present. — DayakDaily