Hajiji affirms commitment to working with federal government amid JKDM controversy

KOTA KINABALU: The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah-Pakatan Harapan (GRS-Pakatan) Plus government is committed to collaborating with the federal government to foster rural development across Sabah, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

He said this was important to bridge the urban-rural gap and ensure equitable development in both areas.

At the same time, Hajiji also called on all elected representatives in the state to involve the respective Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) in each planning and implementation of development programmes in rural areas.

"This includes making the Sabah Maju Jaya development plan a success together," he said, during the launching of the JKKK management and administration course for the Sulaman and Pantai Dalit state constituencies in the Tuaran district on Thursday (June 13).

Hajiji's speech was delivered by state Rural Development Minister Datuk Jahid Jahim amid the controversy over the introduction of the Madani Village Development Committees (JKDM) in Sabah.

GRS and Sabah Pakatan leaders have previously 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.

GRS and Sabah Pakatan Government Backbenchers Club chairman Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob had last month urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to intervene in the matter.

Yusof had called on Anwar to advise Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, to withdraw the appointment of JKDM leaders.

He argued that this scheme was not a federal government policy presented in Parliament for the approval of expenditure, adding the use of public funds to provide allowances for this position was politically motivated and wasteful.

In his speech earlier, Hajiji also told JKKK heads to continuously improve their knowledge and skills so that they would be competent leaders and administrators at the grassroots level.

He said JKKK chairmen were the government’s representatives to provide accurate explanations and information to the community and not to be influenced by “bad elements” that were trying to divide the people of various races and religions in Sabah.

He added their positions were even more vital now considering there were certain quarters who were constantly trying to run down every development and agenda implemented by the government.

“The JKKK plays an important role in deflecting all those baseless allegations,” he said.

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