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Govt told to encourage Sabah’s poor to take part in small-scale industries
Published on: Tuesday, June 18, 2024
By: FMT, Liew Yen Rou
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Govt told to encourage Sabah’s poor to take part in small-scale industries
Activist Adrian Lasimbang says there are many downstream activities the hardcore poor in Sabah can take part in.
PETALING JAYA: An Orang Asal rights activist said the government should encourage the hardcore poor in Sabah, especially those in rural areas, to get involved in small-scale industries to help the community escape the poverty trap.

Adrian Lasimbang said participation in small-scale or cottage industries such as food processing would help the community earn an income, after losing jobs in the timber sector following its decline.

Lasimbang told FMT the hardcore poor could get involved in industries producing ginger or pepper powder as well as produce from the forest such as “tuhau sambal”, derived from shoots of wild ginger, and tapioca starch.

He said there were many other downstream activities the community could take part in “as long as they are not stuck in only producing low value raw materials that are subject to market price or need to face logistical challenges”.

His comments come in the wake of the debate over poverty in Sabah.

On May 31, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim revealed that hardcore poverty in Sabah had dropped from 20,000 to 9,000 households. Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said he planned to eradicate hardcore poverty in the state by the end of July.

However, former Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal poured cold water on such plans, saying the goal was not achievable as the data collected by Putrajaya did not accurately represent the reality on the ground, which was far worse.

Lasimbang, the president of Pertubuhan Suara Anak Sabah, said extreme poverty in the state could be partly attributed to the poor infrastructure and lack of access to electricity in the rural areas.

For example, he said, the lack of roads or poorly maintained ones made it costlier for people in the rural areas to transport their produce as they would have to rely on external parties to handle the logistics.

This had led to loss of income that further impoverished rural communities, especially the indigenous people.

“This leads to people not wanting to go into business and, subsequently, unemployment as they do not want to fork out their own money to transport their goods,” he said.

Meanwhile, economist Barjoyai Bardai suggested that the federal government rely on data such as a household’s daily protein intake, the number of meals consumed each day, and the availability of basic house amenities to measure the level of poverty.

“With this data, we could rank them in deciding the next course of action to help them escape the poverty trap,” Barjoyai, of the Malaysia University of Science and Technology, said.

He said Putrajaya could utilise the central database hub (Padu) to collate such data.

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