KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah women wing’s vice-chief Jo-Anna Henley-Rampas has hit back at Barisan Nasional (BN) Kiulu assemblyman Joniston Bangkuai over the lack of roads and jobs in the constituency.
She accused Bangkuai of living in self-denial by merely announcing the replanting of hundreds of hectares of high-yielding rubber trees in Kiulu.
“The burning question for rubber smallholders in Kiulu is why they are suffering from much lower prices compared to rubber tappers in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak despite the existence of the Sabah Rubber Industry Board (LIGS)?
“I believe the rubber tappers will be the most disgruntled group in the next election as they realise they have been taken for a ride by LIGS for so many years,” she said in a statement today.
Henley-Rampas was responding to remarks by Bangkuai disparaging Warisan vice-president Junz Wong’s statement about his plans to develop Kiulu if the party wins the state seat in the 14th general election.
Bangkuai, who is from Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), claimed Wong’s statement was a desperate attempt to garner voters’ support in the constituency.
“The replanting with high-yielding rubber trees and agricultural industries do not alleviate the problems that smallholders are facing due to the lack of basic road infrastructure in Kiulu,” said Henley-Rampas.
“Since there is high-yielding rubber trees in Kiulu, why has there been no move to develop downstream initiatives in the rubber industry?
“Why can’t we produce our own tyres and rubber gloves?
“Has Joniston ever thought about why Kiulu youth had to migrate to Peninsular Malaysia to find jobs?”
She pointed to the Telipok-Kiulu-Ranau road and the proposed construction of the Tebobon-Gonipis road.
“The current government has been controlling Kiulu since 2002. If it takes 15 years to get a trunk road to serve Kiulu, how long will it take to get the needed road system throughout the rural parts of Kiulu?” she asked.
She said providing basic infrastructure in Sabah would be a priority of a Warisan government.
“Proper road networks are essential because they will spur economic growth and create jobs,” she added.
Henley-Rampas also chided Bangkuai on his remarks about Native Customary Rights (NCR) land.
“All Joniston could say was that large areas of NCR land have been surveyed and titles are ready to be given to applicants. But the truth is that the applicants had applied for them decades ago and are still waiting for promises to be fulfilled,” she said.
She also asked Bangkuai when the proposed bee honey project promised for Kiulu would materialise.
The state government had also promised a PPA1M (1Malaysia Civil Servants Housing) project in Tuaran in 2013, to build 2,000 houses, but the houses were nowhere in sight.
Henley-Rampas stressed that Bangkuai should stop fooling Kiulu villagers by giving sweet promises and instead concentrate on fulfilling some of the promises made.