GPS backbencher suggests Malaysian Pepper Board be returned to Sarawak

GPS backbencher Rolland Duat Jubin suggested this after hearing of news that MPB subsidiary Sara Spice Sdn Bhd is taking over the pepper purchase operation. — Borneo Post Online pic
GPS backbencher Rolland Duat Jubin suggested this after hearing of news that MPB subsidiary Sara Spice Sdn Bhd is taking over the pepper purchase operation. — Borneo Post Online pic

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KUCHING, Nov 13 — A Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) backbencher has suggested that the Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB), which is now a federal agency, be returned as an agency under Sarawak.

Rolland Duat Jubin (GPS-Meluan) suggested this after hearing of news that MPB subsidiary Sara Spice Sdn Bhd is taking over the pepper purchase operation.

“I am worried that this move will cause the interests of smallholders to be sidelined. They will be more concerned with profits than the interests of the smallholders. Recently, those wanting to sell pepper were told to use gunny sacks belonging to them (Sara Spice), which is very inconvenient for the smallholders.

“We also heard that they want to bring big investors to open big farms here. It is clear that they do not think about ways to help smallholders, but want to do big business only,” he said when debating the 2021 State Budget yesterday.

By returning MPB to Sarawak, Duat said the state would be able to properly plan and manage the development of the pepper industry.

“I think this proposal is relevant because the majority of pepper growers are here in Sarawak,” he said. Duat said MPB should pay full attention to the development of smallholder while Sara Spice to focus only on pepper promotion activities and not to engage in business.

“With pepper prices falling (now only RM8 per kg) we see that MPB does not seem to have a clear direction to address the problem of falling pepper prices and help small pepper growers.

“The Board has lost its clear direction,” he said.

On another matter, Duat said there is a need to build a new clinic in Julau to replace the existing one because it can no longer accommodate the growing population, which is about 34,500 people.

He said the present clinic, sitting on a 0.8ha land, was originally a building owned by Julau District Council, and was taken over by the Health Department in 1957 to be used as a clinic.

“We already have a new site and the land has been taken over by the federal government. I hope this request of the people will be brought up to the attention of federal government, or built with the state’s own funds,” he added. — Borneo Post Online

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