KINABATANGAN: Sixteen heads of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) branches in the Entilibon zone here resigned and joined United Borneo Front (UBF) headed by Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, a former leader of PKR.
The PKR branches include those in Kampung Linayukan, Kampung Sanan, Kampung Semundoh, Kampung Entilibon Asal, Kampung Simpang and Kampung Singgahmata. Eleven members of the PKR committee for the Kinabatangan region also resigned, including the secretary, Jalibin Paidi, and the information chief, Cyril Parantis.
Around 875 members have 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.
They pledged their support to UBF and a political vehicle they hope to see arising out of the first popular civil rights movement in Sabah.
The exodus from the Kinabatangan region at the largest ‘Borneo Tea Party’ event held so far for the UBF leaders in Kampung Entilibon 1 Tongod is seen as the clearest pledge of support for Dr Jeffrey and his United Borneo Front.
The tea party, organised by UBF die-hards Jalibin Paidi and James Aik, included a seminar presented by Dr Jeffrey together with his advisers and co-founders, lawyer and activist Nilakrisna James and economist Zainal Ajamain.
The seminar focused on the economic and land issues affecting the Kinabatangan region as well as the 5% oil share from Petronas recently raised by Dr Jeffrey. “We 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 have ventured into palm oil but feel cheated in the amounts they receive for their investment. The average price smallholders of palm oil receive for their Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) from privately owned mills (some of which are listed companies and some of which are owned by local businessmen) is between RM700-RM800 per tonne.
Smallholders would sell 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—RM1,500 per tonne. The mills extract crude palm oil from FFB and sell off the biomass as their own products. These by-products are important for fuel, especially for brick factories and animal feed. People are angry they are being short-changed by the mills. The UBF therefore suggests that smallholders form their own cooperative to determine a better price from mills or collect the biomass back from the mills to sell internationally,” said Dr Jeffrey in a statement yesterday.
Guests at the tea party also highlighted issues of compulsory land acquisitions and the necessity to find common ground to amalgamate Sabah and Sarawak people, regardless of race and religion, to push for equal representation in parliament which, in its current demographic, puts West Malaysian politicians in control of 75% of the seats so as to deny any voice of veto from Sabah and Sarawak.
“If they wish to continue to amend our Federal Constitution and erode our rights or pass unfair laws to our disadvantage, they have their 2/3 majority leaving us powerless in Sabah and Sarawak. This is a breach of our human rights and a breach of Article 8 of the 1963 Malaysia Agreement,” Dr Jeffrey added.
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