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Monday, January 31, 2011

16 Sabah branch chiefs quit PKR


A mass resignation by PKR members in the Kinabatangan region has given United Borneo Front a big boost.

SANDAKAN: Sixteen heads of PKR branches in the Entilibon zone in Kinabatangan resigned en bloc to join the United Borneo Front (UBF) headed by former party vice-president Jeffrey Kitingan.

The branches include Kampung Linayukan, Kampung Sanan, Kampung Semundoh, Kampung Entilibon Asal, Kampung Simpang, Kampung Singgahmata and other branches from Kinabatangan.

Eleven members of the PKR committee for the Kinabatangan region have also quit the party. They include secretary Jalibin Paidi, and information chief Cyril Parantis.

Some 875 members have also apparently tendered their resignation to follow their leaders to pursue UBF’s Borneo Agenda, with more members expected to follow in the next few days.

The exodus from the Kinabatangan region is seen as the clearest pledge of support for Jeffrey and his UBF.

The mass resignation is said to be the single biggest blow to PKR since Jeffrey and several other key leaders from its Kadazandusun Murut Task Force resigned from the party in December.

Jeffrey and the UBF team were in Entilibon as part of their “Borneo Tea Party” series aimed at educating Sabahans on local issues and the Borneo Agenda.

Villagers from various parts of Kinabatangan thronged the community centre in Kampung Entilibon 1 Tongod, a five-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu, to welcome the convoy of four-wheel-drive vehicles of UBF supporters who were preceded by 50 or more bikers clad in yellow T-shirts emblazoned with “United Borneo Front-Kinabatangan”.

Tired of being poor

The tea party, organised by UBF die-hards, Jalibin Paidi and James Aik, also included talks by Jeffrey and UBF co-founders, lawyer and activist Nilakrisna James and economist Zainal Ajamain.

Their sessions focused on economic and land issues affecting the Kinabatangan region as well as the 5% oil share from Petronas.

Going straight to the heart of the issue, Jeffrey said Sabahans have no choice but to address the unfair economic policies and the “laws which have silenced our voices of resentment and hindered our ability to be self-reliant”.

“People are sick and tired of their poverty… there are smallholder farmers in the interior who invested in palm oil but now feel cheated because of the low returns on their investment,” he said.

He pointed out that privately owned mills (some listed companies and some owned by local businessmen) paid smallholders between RM700 and RM800 per tonne for their palm oil fresh fruit bunches (FFB). But he said the smallholders sold these FFB without realising that the biomass from FFB such as kernel, kernel cakes and empty fruit bunch are more profitable, selling in the international market for RM1,200 to RM1,500 per tonne.

“The mills buy the FFB, extract the crude palm oil and then sell off the biomass as their own products.

“These by-products are important for fuel, especially for brick factories and animal feed. People are now angry… they know they are being short-changed by the mills.

“UBF suggests that smallholders form their own cooperative to determine a better price for their FBB or collect the biomass back from the mills and sell it on the international market,” he said.

Unfair laws

Jeffrey also talked about compulsory land acquisitions and finding a common ground to unite the people of Sabah and Sarawak, regardless of race and religion, and the importance of pushing for equal representation in Parliament.

He said that the current demographics put peninsula-based politicians in control of 75% of the seats so as to deny Sabah and Sarawak any veto power.

“If they wish to continue to amend our Federal Constitution and erode our rights or pass unfair laws to our disadvantage, they have their two-thirds majority, leaving us powerless in Sabah and Sarawak.

“This is a violation of our human rights and a breach of Article 8 of the Malaysia Agreement 1963,” Jeffrey said. - FMT

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