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More than half of Borneo population live in poverty, claims CigMa leader

By Ezra Haganez
BRUSSELS: The CigMa (Common Interest Group Malaysia) leaders who are on European capitals tour, this week also met Belgian leaders including its Senaat or Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee at the Parliament House in Brussels.

CigMa President, Daniel John Jambun and Secretary-General, Kanul Gindol briefed the Belgian Committee on the condition of life and human rights issues in Borneo especially in Sabah and Sarawak.

As in The Hague earlier, Jambun presented his paper titled “Disenfranchisement of bona fide Sabahans”, outlining policies and programmes by government that had marghinalised and disenfranchised the natives. 

Kanul, a journalist-politician, meanwhile told the Committee that more than half of the 19 million population in Borneo still live in “poverty” though many are well to do.

“There are about 18.5 to 19 million in the whole island of Borneo, the world’s third largest island, but the sad thing is that as many as more than 10 million people in Borneo are in poverty due to various factors but also perhaps by design by certain power.

“All seven states or provinces on the Borneo island are very rich indeed with mineral deposits, most important are the well sought gas and petroleum. However most of Borneo people especially the natives live in poverty…

“And I am talking about basic necessities like owning decent house, access to clean water supply, electricity supply, schools and clinics,” Gindol told the Committee which was represented by its member Senator Piet de Bruyn and two of his officers.

Many of the Committee members are either on business or on leave for Easter, which is celebrated all over Europe starting with Good Friday (April 22) and Easter this Sunday.   

Saying Borneo is one of the most taken for granted places by international institutions, Gindol, who also heads Borneo-based Gindol Initiative for Civil Society Borneo, appealed to European leaders and countries to engage more with Borneo, with its governments and NGOs, as he believed this could catalyse for a better condition for a better and more progressive Borneo.

“All the seven states or provinces in Borneo, including the tiny kingdom of Brunei, are very rich in gas and oil, and given a choice we should want to contribute meaningfully not only within our Borneo community but in the growth of our region…” he further said.

Meanwhile, de Bryun, in response said he appreciated the delegation’s presentations which had enlightened him and that he would certainly inform his colleagues of what had been brought to the Committee’s attention.
“We certainly learnt a lot from your presentation today and we appreciate the cause you are taking and we would certainly take note of your points…” de Bryun said.

Belgium’s capital Brussels also hosts the seat of the European Union government, having the EU Parliament here. The delegation from Borneo has also indicated its wish to meet with EU parliamentarians in the future.  

Meanwhile, HINDRAF Leader, Waythamoorthy, who was also in the meeting told the Committee about the conditions of life of the Indian community in the Peninsular Malaysia.

He said the Indians, descendent of indentured labours brought to Malaya from India long time ago, had been subjected to many injustices in life including on education opportunity, harsh treatment by police as well as non-existent of economic opportunity for normal Indians.

“HINDRAF had been fighting for a better treatment to Indians in Malaysia but little has improved as most of them still live in poverty in plantation which their fore fathers helped cleared the jungle long time ago,” he said.
London-based Waythamoorthy, also claimed that the current Federal Government under the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional has not been listening and paying enough attention to the plights of the Indian community, just as it does to the Borneon natgives in Sabah and Sarawak.

He said registering HINDRAF as an association in Malaysia also had come head-on with the Federal Government who refused to register it and continue treating it as illegal operation.

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