Unite or fall, Jeffrey tells Sabahans (and Sarawakians)
KOTA KINABALU: The leader of the rights movement United Borneo Front (UBF), Jeffrey Kitingan, has called on Sabahans to unite to regain their position in the country.
“The old saying, ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ is the premise by which we have lost our autonomy. To regain our position as equals, we must unite and put our differences aside,” he said in a New Year message.
“We must unite under the Borneo Agenda which we will push together as a growing team before the next general election. This is the last chance we’ll have to make this known to the federal powers.”
He was speaking at the Tambunan Village Resort Centre (TVRC) in Tambunan on Thursday, in conjunction with the launch of UBF’s roadshows as part of its commitment to educate the masses on the Borneo Agenda and its many demands.
Jeffrey said that the old political model used since 1963 based on the premise that political parties must only fall within clear racial lines was no longer relevant to the present society.
“The focus was not on meritocracy or even solution- and issue-based agendas. It was simply inciting people to believe that power must fall along racial and religious divides.
“UBF doesn’t agree with this model and I have personally witnessed how we are so easily controlled because we fell for the simple trap of being divided; divided as natives and divided as Sabahans,” he said.
Platform for unity
On UBF, the former PKR vice-president, who is now an ordinary member of the opposition party, said that the new movement was a platform for unity open to everyone regardless of their political affiliation.
“Everybody can support us because we are not biased towards any particular political alliance. We are a pressure group that criticises ineffective, repressive or irrelevant political models.
“We must be ready to take up this challenge and revolutionise our political models and our mindset when it comes to politics. We must resolve to change and prevent resentment from taking root in extremism,” he said.
He told his audience that he hoped the gathering-cum-Christmas Open House at his resort which he dubbed a “Borneo Tea Party”, would unite the people of Borneo for their own common good irrespective of their racial and religious persuasions and political affiliations.
UBF, which was officially launched on Dec 16, has been well received by Sabahans in general.
Jeffrey is being assisted by co-leaders – lawyer, activist and writer Nilakrisna James and economist and policy-maker Zainal Ajamain, who both worked with him to strategise and formulate the blueprints for the new political model proposed by UBF.
Nilakrisna said she was convinced that every Sabahan understands the urgency and necessity for unity.
“It is time that we addressed the way in which we have been repressed for nearly half a century.
“By uniting under an umbrella that addresses our rights… we are in a better position to have the final say when it comes to the revenue and the resources of our own territories.”
She said that UBF hoped to help people “understand that laws can either empower or repress us. We are not inferior. We have just been too silent for too long. Jeffrey is a leader with great compassion and grit and he has the courage to make his stand known without fear. ”
Total lack of transparency
Zainal said that the digital and economic divide was the clearest indication of how Sabah has been left to degenerate.
“It is evident in the way we handle the oil revenue that there is a total lack of transparency in the data available to the public. We should have easy access to information that enables everybody to see how our state budget is spent, where it goes to and where it comes from, down to the last sen.
“We should be able to trace the data of all goods imported and exported into and out of Sabah. The younger generation is a very technologically advanced group. They derive their knowledge from the Internet and grew up with an encyclopaedia of information that is forever expanding and limitless.
“If we are not transparent in our facts and figures in government spending, our leaders will face a rude shock in the years to come because the young people will not stand for it,” he said.
UBF also announced that the next “Borneo Tea Party” event will be hosted at a private function in Keningau today.