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Poverty still a serious problem in Sabah, says Shafie

Shafie….Government leaders should go down to the ground to get accurate view,  not reliant on data and statistics.

KOTA KINABALU: Datuk  Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal criticised government leaders for their failure to acknowledge the realities of poverty and hardship on the ground and being too reliant on data and statistics.

The Warisan president pointed out that evidence of financial struggles among the population would become apparent upon closer inspection of the situation on the ground.

He said these challenges extend beyond rural areas and also impact urban communities.

Shafie said Sabah will still encounter obstacles in accessing adequate healthcare services, despite the allocation of RM80 million to repurpose Queen Elizabeth II Hospital into a National Heart Centre.

“We cannot just rely on data. They have to go down to the ground.

“There are still many people who are poor. Don’t just focus on the interior divisions alone. Look at Penampang alone, there are still people living in shelters. Not enough clothes, food and do not have smartphones.

“I recall when I was the rural and regional development minister, I saw the construction of 200 units of PPRT housing aid; not 20, also another 200 in Tuaran, not one, not 100,” said Shafie after making his rounds in the Penampang capital township of Donggongon on Sunday.

Shafie was commenting on the conflicting federal and state statistics involving poverty.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor recently criticised Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli for using outdated hardcore poor statistics.

Hajiji said the number of hardcore poor in Sabah has dropped from 22,510 households to 13,172 households in reference to Rafizi’s Sabah hardcore poverty figure being six times higher than the national rate when citing the Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2022 report.

“Sabah has close to a 4 million population, but only a few specialists. Imagine there are no specialists in places like Keningau, Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu,” said Shafie.

“If there are those who need treatment, they have to be transported to Kota Kinabalu by road or flight. There had been instances people died along the way to get treatment.”

Shafie was referring to the RM80 million allocation announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to repurpose Queen Elizabeth Hospital II as a National Heart Centre during the national-level Hari Raya celebrations held at the Sabah International Convention Centre in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday.

Shafie said what Sabah really needs is new hospitals as the present ones are already overwhelmed although he expressed gratitude for federal aid.

He said even at this point, the state’s main general hospitals, the Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II, operate a shared kitchen to feed patients.

“Even visitors to the hospitals have to lie on the floor. We are badly in need of new hospitals. In Johor, the federal government can spend RM500 million, while the peninsula has all the best health facilities, including the private ones.

“The people there can afford the best treatments, but not in Sabah where the people are poor, not enough doctors, or send patients to the peninsula to get the best treatments,” he said.

Shafie also said government cash aid is not the real solution to address poverty in Sabah but real good jobs that could sustain with a consistent income. – The Vibes

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