TWO MPs have called on the Government to pay greater attention to eradicate poverty among native groups in Sabah and Sarawak.
Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan (BN - Kitingan) said a Native Affairs Department should be set up so that these bumiputras could be looked after just like those in the peninsula.
“This department can be similar to the Department of Orang Asli Affairs in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.
It could help the bumiputras look for jobs and market their products or provide education opportunities to them, he said when debating the Mid-Term Review of the Eighth Malaysia Plan.
Ronald Kiandee (BN - Beluran) spoke of the poor living conditions of these people, saying that many of the villages were still dependent on generators for power supply.
“This is despite me bringing up their plight in this House many times,” he said.
Chew Mei Fun (BN - PJ Utara) stressed the need to care for senior citizens, who would form about seven per cent of the population by 2005.
Malaysia, she said, was heading towards an aging population in view of its birth rate which fell to 1.25% between 2001 and this year.
“Plans must be drawn up to ensure old people enjoy a better quality of life by having access to healthcare, financial security and places to hold their activities,” she said.
Retirees who were still in good health should have the opportunity to continue working, she added.
Kerk Kim Hock (DAP - Kota Melaka) said more efforts must be made to understand the various cultures in Malaysia.
“Although we generally live in harmony and can talk and laugh together, there is no deeper understanding of matters like education,” he said, adding that the culture and language of the Chinese could be better understood.
Datuk Robert Lau (BN - Sibu) pleaded with the Education Ministry to provide capital grants for vernacular and missionary schools in his constituency.
“I have tried the gentle and tough approaches but to no avail. There isn’t one sen given yet,” he said, adding that his request had been made for almost three years.
The grant, he said, would enable the schools to build facilities like classrooms and science laboratories.
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