Abang Jo: Better to teach them how to fish than to give them fish
Posted on : 25 Feb 2023  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari (centre) speaks to reporters. – Photo by Muhammad Rais Sanusi

KUCHING (Feb 25): Instead of giving out the cash out initiative, it would be better to provide infrastructure and facilities that will enable to uplift the livelihood of the people, especially those who live in poverty, said Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Sarawak Premier opined that initiatives such as the eKasih system would not be able to ensure the sustainability of the livelihood of those categorised as in the poverty group.

“If we want to eradicate poverty, first, we need to upgrade and build the infrastructure, especially for the poor, we supply electricity and clean water supply. And secondly, through education.

“This is how we want to eradicate poverty. You cannot give them fish, but you can teach them how to catch fish,” he said when asked to comment on measures taken by the federal government to use Sarawak’s oil revenue as part of the effort to eradicate poverty in Terengganu and Kelantan.

He was speaking to reporters after a site visit and briefing for construction and completion of the Jalan Sungai Maong to Segedup here today.

Explaining further, Abang Johari stressed that eradicating poverty through education would be the best way to improve the livelihood of the people, especially the poor.

“The second way to eradicate poverty is through education. if we raise the level of education of the people, they have knowledge, they can use assets to increase income. That’s why I don’t really agree with e-Kasih

“Because if he gets eKasih (cash out initiative for poverty), those who get eKasih don’t want to get out of eKasih, that’s why it’s free money. The economic policy must be appropriate and relevant with the current situation.

“Every community that we want to develop must have knowledge. That is why Sarawak really pushes for education, upgrading schools and all. If the older generation can’t afford to go to school, if we upgrade and build the schools for them, their children can help them get out of poverty. This is how we want to eradicate poverty,” he added.

Abang Johari also pointed out that the eKasih was not sustainable as it only measures poverty through the income of households.

According to him, poverty should not only be measured by the amount of cash people have, but fixed assets such as native customary rights (NCR) land and farming land.

Citing NCR land as an asset that can be monetised, he opined that such assets should be included as a net tangible asset as it will enable the federal government to identify the real poverty rate.

“And to help people who are said to be poor but at the same time, these people also have land.

“That is why I said to the Prime Minister – you cannot measure where based on cash. It must be based on assets. And the problem now is that they don’t monetise the assets,” he said, adding that some people who were listed in the eKasih database still receive cash out incentives despite having enough assets.

“In the rural area, the communities there usually have their own farming land and NCR land. So if they follow economic theory, they are not poor. Maybe they don’t have enough knowledge,” he added.

On Friday, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim when tabling the Budget 2023 said the Premier of Sarawak and the Chief Minister of Sabah have agreed to utilise part of their states’ petroleum revenue to support the federal government’s effort to eradicate poverty in Kelantan and Terengganu.