State leaders question need for two village development committees in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The Federal Government's move to establish the Madani Village Development Committee (JKDM) in Sabah is questionable as a similar body exists, say state leaders.

Upko president Datuk Ewon Benedick said that the state already had an amended Rural Administration Ordinance for village administration to ensure that Sabah has only one village management body – the Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK).

He added that the Ordinance was approved in the Sabah Legislative Assembly in January and only the JKKK is recognised and members appointed by the state government.

"If it is a national policy, then it should be implemented throughout the country, but it is not in Sarawak and some other peninsula states," said the Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister, adding that he had voiced his disagreement about establishing JKDM when it was raised in the Cabinet.

"The decision at that time was to negotiate with the Sabah government first, so I don't know why it was pursued," he said.

Parti Bersatu Sabah information chief Datuk Joniston Bangkuai also questioned why JKKK's role was being duplicated.

"Why do we need two bodies to manage allocations for villages? Wouldn't it be better to give autonomy to the Sabah government so we can channel the funds as needed in our respective areas?

"That is what autonomy is all about," said Joniston, who is also GRS information chief.

He also said that JDKM was being extended to Sabah without the concurrence of the state government.

"I am also intrigued about why this committee is not extended to Sarawak," he said.

Meanwhile, Sabah STAR strategy director Dr Paul Porodong said that establishing JKDM may conflict with and disrupt governance of existing JKKKs under the Sabah government.

However, Warisan vice president Terrence Siambun said there was nothing wrong with establishing JKDM in every constituency, especially if it could expedite infrastructure and utilities upgrades that could benefit indigenous communities in Sabah.

Describing it as "a very good initiative by the unity government", he said it would allow component parties in Sabah an optional platform for members to offer their services to the grassroots, especially those who were not given posts in JKKK.

Siambun, who is also state Opposition leader, added that Ewon could only register his objection to the JKDM in the Cabinet but was bound to support the initiative by virtue of the ministerial collective responsibility convention.

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