A Sabah activist believes it is 'high time' that focus be given to the 'impossibly poor' of Sabah and Sarawak.
KOTA KINABALU 4/12/2012: Several non-governmental organisations, both national and local, are expected to lodge separate reports on “depressing” human rights issues affecting the people in East Malaysia.
According to the president of newly-founded UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia (BoPi MaFo), Daniel John Jambun, several NGOs and human rights activists are already in contact with the United Nation’s Commissioner for Human Rights (UNCHR) in Geneva over human rights issues in Sabah and Sarawak.
“While in London recently, I was made to understand that Suaram is also making a representation to UNCHR in Geneva, Switzerland, on human right issues in Sabah and Sarawak,” he told FMT here.
He however declined to name the other groups that he said are also making representations to the UN, adding that it should be known in due time.
“This is a good development as we in Sabah and Sarawak have been subjected to discriminatory policies by the federation and state as far as issues of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, racial discrimination, access to public education and scholarship as wells as minority cultures are concerned,” he said.
Jambun said BoPi MaFo also would engage the UNCHR as he himself had been in a group of Borneo’s activists in an earlier briefing on Borneo’s issues at the UN body’s headquarters in Geneva in April, 2011.
Jambun, who is also State Reform Party (STAR) deputy chairman, Sabah chapter, said it was high time that focus be given to the “impossibly poor” of Sabah and Sarawak.
He said that it is only natural that people would seek ways to search for solutions to perennial problems in the two states that had in 1963 agreed to join Malaya and Singapore to form a new Federation with guarantees on autonomy and freedom.
He said that he himself is disturbed with many complaints and reports from Sabahans that they were fed up with the failure by the federal and state authorities to address the “perennial problems” faced by the people by declaring non-issues.
“We would like competent bodies to look and really examine our conditions of guarantee in Sabah and Sarawak” and not be fed the same old lines that “everything is fine in Sabah or Malaysia,” he said.
“Sabah and Sarawak combined is far bigger than the peninsula in terms of land mass, (has more) natural resources, economic and industrial potential, but look at these two states today… both are the poorest in Malaysia. Certainly there is a deep-rooted problem somewhere,” he said.
Last year, Jambun presented a paper ‘Disenfranchisement of bona fide Sabahans’ at a briefing and dialogue in Geneva for UNCHR officials from various sections, including the human rights, the economic, social and cultural rights, the religious rights and the indigenous peoples and minorities sections.
Jambun also presented the same paper at separate meetings of parliamentary select committees in The Hague, Holland, and Brussels in Belgium in April last year.