UPKO NEEDS TO SHOW ITS OWN 'NICHE' TO WIN PEOPLE'S HEARTS - EWON
Datuk Ewon Benedick
19 July 2021
By Wartawan Nabalu News
KOTA KINABALU: Leaders of the United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) must demonstrate that the party can be people-centric that prioritises the people's interests.
To realise the vision, Upko Vice-President Datuk Ewon Benedick said the party will need to be different and "people-friendly" besides not being dominated by the elites.
He said the recent turmoil that happens in the government's administration nowadays was due to the political game of the elites who have been in the leadership for a long time but no longer listened to the pulse of the people.
"Making our party the people's party can be done if we are serious but other parties need to change as well, they need to fight for the people. Therefore, Upko needs to be distinct from the other parties.
"Upko also needs to balance between its party's fight policies and its service towards the people from the grassroots level, especially during this Covid-19 pandemic crisis. The rights of the people need to be upheld, not only on policies and improvement of government policies," he said in response to a question during a Webinar session entitling "Peneraju Perjuangan Rakyat: Siri ke-2” yesterday.
He was asked about the role of Upko as the leader of the people in Sabah and the Federation.
The Kadamaian State Assemblyman also mentioned that currently, the people going through rough patches that impact their income sources, employment and business.
“The people need food baskets and students having trouble with their online home-based learning (PdPR) where some have no access tp online learning due to lack of equipment, poor internet connection or having to share mobile phones or laptops with other siblings or friends… they all need solution from us.
"In terms of healthcare, we can campaign to our families and party members to receive the vaccines so that we can achieve herd immunity.
We also need to help ease the burden of those who have lost their jobs, income and business, but still have to pay their mortgage. All of this needs our attention," he stressed.
According to Ewon, in order to be a people-centric party, Upko needs to first look at the problems of its members before looking at bigger things as a lot of its members are also in need of help such as food baskets.
“When I was part of the Sabah Cabinet, the food basket aid distribution programme conducted by UPPM Offices in 60 areas throughout Sabah were being implemented rapidly. In Kadamaian alone, everyone received the aids with some receiving it three times,” he added.
He said while the current state government has announced more than RM30 million funds for the food basket assistance programme, only those listed in e-kasih as well as those who are quarantined can receive the aid.
“There are many people who are not listed in the e-kasih programme like villagers who are not undergoing quarantine. But due to the MCO, they were unable to earn a living and had lost their source of income. They too have not received the food basket aid. This is the difference between our approach (previous government) and the present-day government."
Therefore, Upko as a party that was once in the Sabah Cabinet can play their role to check and balance, he added.
“Even in our own level (Upko) if we can't help everyone, we can start with helping our members who are in dire need of help. We have a Welfare Bureau that can work with many parties including non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or other strategic partners.
"In Kadamaian, I’ve worked with several NGOs. This week, a group of NGOs will send food baskets to the Kadamaian Service Center. Besides that, I have also forked out my own expense to help those who contacted us because they really need this kind of help. We need to sacrifice," he explained.
He said, although Upko is no longer with the government, the party can still work with any government agencies, especially district-level health and police offices to help villages under EMCO as well as making the vaccination campaign a success.
"I think during this kind of situation, it is commendable that we need to work with all parties, including the government as we cannot work alone to help the people,” he stated.
Ewon said, all these are the things that need to be taken into account if Upko wants to be seen as an organisation that is fighting for the people's struggles.