PKR Mukah calls for inclusion of Sarawak, Sabah indigenous people in special taskforce

Abdul Jalil Bujang

KUCHING, May 20: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Mukah urges Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to also include the interests of the indigenous people of Sarawak to be looked after by the Special Taskforce proposed by Dr Mahathir recently.

The branch’s chairman Abdul Jalil Bujang said he welcomed the setting up of that taskforce, which was to look after the interests of the Indian community, women, youth and Orang Asli, but also reminded the Prime Minister to include the indigenous people of Sarawak and Sabah.

In a statement today, Abdul Jalil said the Melanau in Sarawak alone has a 137,000-strong population in the state, and should be considered to have one representative as a member of the Speial Taskforce committee.

He said many of the Melanau as well as other indigenous people of the state were still left behind in terms of education and socio-economic wellbeing, especially those in the rural areas.

“Although Sarawak has been experiencing booming growth over the past few years, there are still some Melanau communities which are still hardcore poor. Most of them are within the areas of Bintulu, Mukah, Igan, Dalat, Balingian and Matu-Daro.

“Some of their communities have been living without treated water supply and electricity,” said Abdul Jalil.

He proposed that the Special Taskforce look into several proposals, such as setting up a board for the development of ‘mulong’ or sago, similar to the Sarawak Pepper Board or other boards for other crops here.

Abdul Jalil also propose that the taskforce look into the marketing of farming and fishing produce to ensure the farmers and fishermen have more stable income. In relation to that he also proposed a living assistance for the lower income group as well as entrepreneurship assistance for those interested to trade or run businesses.

“The taskforce should also look into giving permission to landowners to work on or develop their idle lands free of tax, as well as giving land grants to the deserving ones.

“Free healthcare should also be provided to these rural communities as it would be inconvenient for them to travel all the way to the nearest clinic which most probably they could not afford,” he said.

Abdul Jalil also urged the taskforce to look into the fuel subsidy assistance for fishermen to avoid misuse of subsidies.

“We urge that the indigenous people of Sarawak and Sabah be included in this Special Taskforce so that they would not be left behind,” he said. — DayakDaily