KOTA KINABALU : The newly elected Inanam assemblyman, Dr Roland Chia Ming Shen, believes that his entry into politics was a calling from God.
“It is the Lord’s calling,” he told The Borneo Post during an interview yesterday.
Dr Roland, a dentist by training, joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in 2008 and was nominated to represent the party during the 13th general election for the Inanam state seat.
“I was honoured and humbled by the nomination. The first thing in my mind was to bring the message of reform and change. I also wanted to raise the socio-economic status of the people in Sabah because I have travelled around the whole state and saw the people’s hunger for change after 50 years.”
The hunger for change among the people was the same in Inanam, he said.
“It is not just in the town area, but also in the kampungs. I visited Kg. Talungan, which was a Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) stronghold. PBS has never lost there, but the people decided to stop supporting the party because they said PBS has failed to champion the people of Kg. Talungan. They continue to have very bad roads, untreated water.
The children have difficulty going to secondary schools and most are rubber tappers. Some of the areas in that village have no electricity and yet they are surrounded by plantations,” he said.
He said further that the plantations did not belong to the local villagers.
“Outsiders are developing the plantations but are marginalising the villagers,” he said.
During the British colonial era, he said, the British left a system, which became a legacy, when they started opening up lands for plantations.
“When they open up plantations, they trained the local villagers to be cadets, officers and managers. They establish clinics and missionary schools so that the community can handle whatever they need to do. But after 50 year, this system is no longer practised. Instead, the plantations take away the villagers land, leaving the villagers poor and uneducated,” he said.
He explained that the villagers were not greedy folks who were keen on free hand-outs.
“They don’t want free hand-outs. What they want is access to proper education, infrastructures. They want access to be able to sell their products, to operate as traders. But they don’t have the avenue to trade and be educated,” he lamented.
He added that the nearest schools for most of the villages that he has visited in Sabah were sited some 30 kilometres away.
“And our surveys have shown that the reason for the high dropout rate among rural children is because they cannot afford the cost of going to school. Their parents have to fork out RM150 per month per child just for their bus fare. If they have four children, that is RM600 per month. And these people are poor rubber tappers and cash crop sellers. So it is really not surprising that the children are at the tamu helping out their parents instead of attending school,” he said.
Under Pakatan, these children would be attended to and cared for, he said.
“Pakatan has promised up to RM240 per child per month to ensure they do not leave school. There is no point building modern school buildings when the children cannot afford to attend them,” he said. (BP)