Of Borneo's over 18 million population, 10 million live in poverty despite the island being rich in natural resources.
Sabah-based Common Interest Group Malaysia (CigMa) said more than 10 million of Borneo’s over 18 million population lived in poverty despite the region being rich in land, timber, gas and oil.
Speaking to the FRC committee, CigMa secretary-general Kanul Gindol said Borneo is the “most divided island in the world”.
“Borneo is the third largest island in the world but it is the most divided island in the world.
“It is ruled by three countries – Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia and it has seven states or provinces.
“Malaysia has the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the four huge Kalimantan provinces come under Indonesian rule.
“All seven states or provinces are each very very rich in natural resources like timber, gas, oil and fertile lands. But the natives are very poor.
“Something is very wrong and must be corrected…We are here to seek help and call for more international understanding of the peculiarities of our problems in Borneo,” Gindol told parliamentarians Kathleen G Ferrier from the Christian Democratic Party and Raymond de Roon of the Party for Freedom.
Gindol and CigMa president Daniel John Tambun and Hindraf chairman, P Waythamoorthy, have been meeting up with European Union (EC) parliamentarians and government officials at The Hague (Holland) and Brussels (Belgium) this week to drum up support from the international community to accelerate progress and social justice for the natives in Borneo and the marginalised Indians in Malaysia.
Both Ferrier and De Roon said that they would bring the Borneo matter to the attention of their colleagues in the Dutch parliament.
While De Roon thanked the delegation for their “eye-opening presentation”, Ferrier said: “Today we learnt a lot from you about your people’s plights and we would want to know what your people would want us to do to help…”
Both Jambun and Gindol were focused on highlighting the persistent hindrances to progress and justice to the natives of Borneo, in particular Sabah and Sarawak, while Waythamoorthy briefed the FRC on the plight of minority Indians in Malaysia.
Jambun in his presentation titled “The Disenfranchisement of bona fide Sabahans”, outlined the perennial problems plaguing Sabahans, especially the presence of millions of illegal immigrants from southern Philippines and Indonesians in Sabah.
Jambun said the federal government was not making any effort to address the issue and that it had made many, especially the natives, to believe that it was a ploy to re-engineer the demographic of Sabah which was previously a predominantly Christian state.
“This issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah became well-known for its link to a former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who stands accused of giving Malaysian identification cards to these Muslim immigrants.
“We the natives are being outnumbered by the immigrants who are taking a lot of opportunities from us with the full knowledge of the federal government. We are being disenfranchised as bona fide Sabahans,” Jambun said.