Current Affairs

Dark days ahead. GRS just terminated all community leaders in Sabah.

A letter signed by State Secretary, Datuk Safar Untong dated 2nd October 2020 terminating all Pemaju Mukim/Masyarakat, Majlis Pengurusan Kokuniti Kampung (MPKK), Jawatan Kuasa Dalam Bandar (JKDB), Ketua Daerah, Ketua Anak Negeri, Wakil Ketua Anak Negeri and Ketua Kampung with immediate effect based on a cabinet decision on 1st Oct 2020 has sparked confusion and anxiety among communities especially the Orang Asal or native communities.

The action to terminate all Ketua Adat will cripple not only the Native Court system but also communities in rural areas. It has created unnecessary anxieties and will definitely inconvenience Orang Asal communities especially those who need to conduct native marriage registrations, engagements, native court cases and arbitration at the village level.

“I challenge the GRS government to hold local government elections for all local community leaders whom they have just terminated.” – Jannie Lasimbang

It is extremely irresponsible for the newly-formed GRS government to politically intervene in the native court system. The replacement of Orang Asal leaders should respect native law and conduct proper consultation, at the minimum, with the Majlis Hal Ehwal Anak Negeri and the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Anak Negeri.

The decision is also questionable because the full cabinet has not been sworn in at the time of the termination and the portfolio responsible for native affairs has not been decided.

If the GRS goverment have the Orang Asal’s development in mind, it should work towards strengthening what has been achieved by the Ministry of Law and Native Affairs instead of the deciding to do away with the Ministry.

While the previous Warisan Plus government have also replaced Ketua Kampungs, it was done in stages and the selection process was made through the local authorities, chaired by the District Officer or President of the Majlis Perbandaran, with clear criteria. In the meantime, native court personnel continued to operate to ensure a smooth transition in the native court.

Likewise, the Chinese and other urban communities are also bound to suffer with the termination of the Kapitan or Ketua Masyarakat Cina, and the Jawatan Kuasa Dalam Bandar (JKDB) and their respective committees, who have worked tirelessly to serve these communities. The time gaps in replacing the individuals and committees would also cause difficulties and anxieties.

GRS leaders, especially Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor, should be taken to task for talking rhetorics about caring about people’s wellbeing. This blantant abuse of power by the GRS government shows their lust of power and control, and put little regard to the wellbeing of the Orang Asal and other communities.

In my experience in the Kapayan constituency, the leaders selected for these positions have worked with full dedication to serve everyone in their assigned areas, even with a small allowance. Once they were appointed, they served everyone regardless of their political allegiance.

I urge the GRS government to give them due respect by honouring these leaders individually with a dignified termination notice and appreciation for their service instead of treating them as pariahs. All payments due to them should also be paid in full as soon as possible.

Finally, I challenge the GRS government to hold local government elections for all local community leaders whom they have just terminated. This would prove they are better than the previous Warisan Plus government, which initiated a transparent and participative process to select these portfolios and even designed and conducted an election process to select a Ketua Kampung that was used for Kampung Tunoh in the Kapayan constituency in 2020.

Statement issued by Jannie Lasimbang, ADUN Kapayan issued on 9 October, 2020

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