Politicians told to end bickering, improve East Malaysians’ livelihoods instead

File photo for illustration purposes

KUCHING, May 19: Dayak Transformation Association (Trada) urges politicians from all parties to stop the political bickering and focus on addressing the socio-economic problems faced by East Malaysian communities.

The social advocacy group also implored the federal government to be bold in reviewing taxes and duties that have resulted in East Malaysians having to pay more for products which force them to buy from the black market.

The comments came following an article carried by theedgemarkets.com that puts Sabah and Sarawak in top spots for illegal cigarettes.

“It is both disheartening and shameful to read that my home state of Sarawak is No. 1 in Malaysia for illegal cigarettes, which takes up 86.1 per cent of the total market. Neighboring Sabah is a close second with 81 per cent.

“This issue is a reflection of an even deeper problem relating to extremely low average income, poor enforcement and ineffective public policies that stifles economic progress and facilitate the prevalence of illegal products and criminal activities throughout East Malaysia,” according to Joseph Janting, president and founder of Trada in a press statement today.

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, Gross Domestic Product per Capita in Sabah and Sarawak in 2018 was RM25,861 and RM52,301 respectively while GDP per Capita in Kuala Lumpur is RM121,293.

“This measurement of standard of living clearly shows that East Malaysians are lagging behind. Unfortunately, we expect living standards to plummet even further as a result of severe job losses and economic downturn due to the Covid-19 crisis.

“As East Malaysians will be celebrating a muted Hari Kaamatan (Sabah) and Hari Gawai (Sarawak) soon, members of Trada would like to implore our politicians to put aside political expediency and help the people.

“Trada would like to see the federal and state administrations work harder to put in place policies that uplift the socio-economic standards of East Malaysians in a sustainable manner.

“At the same time, the government should be bold enough to review taxes and duties that make products too expensive for East Malaysians to afford, giving us no choice but to turn to black market products. Enforcement alone is not enough when more than eight out of 10 products are illegal goods,” Joseph added.

According to the statement, Trada is a non-government organisation that aims to see the Dayak people throughout Malaysia embrace knowledge and technology in a comprehensive manner so as to ensure a brighter and more inclusive future. — DayakDaily