Competition between federal and state village committees benefits ordinary Sabahans, says Warisan VP

KOTA KINABALU: A little competition between state and federal village grassroots organisations may see ordinary folk becoming the real winners, says Warisan vice president Terrence Siambun.

He was referring to the recently established Madani Village Development Committee (JKDM) by the federal Rural and Regional Development Ministry and the state’s Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK).

State leaders had been vocal against the JKDM of late, but Siambun said it could outdo the JKKK, particularly in responding to people’s needs in times of crisis.

For example, he claimed, the state through its JKKK did not have a good track record in acting in a timely manner after flooding incidents.

Many parts of Sabah, he said, were flood-prone, including the Penampang district near here and the southwestern Membakut sub-district, which was recently flooded due to a downpour.

He recalled that the Penampang district was hit with severe floods in September 2021, but the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)-led state government was allegedly slow in sending their people to deal with the aftermath.

'In the case of Kampung Sugud (in Penampang), it was the NGOs from all over the state that came in numbers to deliver water bottles and assist with the clean-up in that village," Siambun said in a statement on Tuesday (May 21).

"So, I am now eagerly waiting to see if the unity government's JKDM can outplay the state’s JKKK in terms of services and performances rendered to Sabahans, especially in times of emergency.

"Competition is good because, at the end of the day, it is the ordinary Sabahans who will benefit the most, while at the same time, the state government grassroots leaders will now have to up their performance," he added.

In the case of Membakut, he said, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor should immediately intervene and formulate a plan to mitigate the perennial flooding faced by the people.

Siambun said Hajiji must instruct the relevant leaders under the JKDM to assist in the clean-up, identify villagers requiring financial assistance, and monitor the drainage system to prevent clogging.

The September 2021 episode in Kampung Sugud, where the government was slow to clear the mud left by the flood, must not be repeated in Membakut and other districts as well, he added.

GRS and Sabah Pakatan Harapan leaders have criticised the move to establish the JKDM in Sabah, claiming it was a "divide and conquer" ploy by Umno to strengthen its influence in the state.

They said JKDM was not needed in the state as the JKKK was already doing the job of looking after the grassroots.

This had been denied by state Umno leaders, including its chief Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, who said the JKDM was aimed at helping the state government elevate the socio-economy and well-being of communities, especially in rural areas, to uplift the people out of the hardcore poverty bracket.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the state government would hand over its formal objection to the programme to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when the latter visits Sabah at the end of this month.

Last Friday (May 17), Bung Moktar presented appointment letters to JKDM leaders comprising members from Sabah Barisan Nasional, Warisan, and Parti KDM.

The former Sabah chief minister said the ceremony only involved those affiliated with these parties as they were the ones "left out" by GRS, referring to appointments as leaders in state grassroots organisations.

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