By JUNZ WONG
COMMENT: I appreciate the swift response and assurance given by the Sabah Rubber Industries Board (LIGS) that protecting the interests and welfare of rubber smallholders in the State remains their priority.
I however cannot help to note that LIGS has conveniently avoided the most important question i.e. how do they determine percent of dried rubber content (DRC) and therefore determine the price of the raw materials to be paid.
In Sabah, smallholders sell their products in both sheets and but even in cup lump form. In Malaya these are only 1-2 days old, but in Sabah it’s at least week old when the rubber is collected and the DRC is as high as 65 percent to even 80 percent.
So how would LIGS be paying a price of DRC 50 percent to smallholders and claim it to be fair?
Rubber smallholders would really like to know the justification as to how LIGS determines the DRC for their produce.
I therefore re-emphasize the need for LIGS to answer to smallholders:
1. How does LIGS formulate the farm gate value for rubber raw materials such as unsmoked sheet and cup lump etc?
2. How does LIGS determine the Dry Rubber Content (DRC) of this rubber raw material and to determine the pricing of each grade of rubber, such as Sheet Grades 1 and 2 as well as Cup Rubber Grades 1 and 2?
This is why it is extremely important for LIGS to enlighten our smallholders as to how they determine the percentage (%) of DRC for the rubber raw materials so that Sabahan rubber tappers can determine whether LIGS’ prices are fair.
How dos the rubber tappers know that LIGS is not giving them a raw deal by paying them the price of DRC 50 percent while the DRC of the rubber raw materials is in fact as high as 70percent?
Secondly, why does LIGS, or the Sabah government for that matter, think it’s fair and right that the procurement and maintenance of vehicles, road access, offices and other services or maybe even the salaries of the staff are to be borne by the smallholders in Sabah?
How can LIGS claim they have carried out its social obligation to provide door to door service due to poor access roads and requirement to provide marketing service regardless of distance and quantity, when the smallholders are actually paying for all these costs?
Isn’t that the responsibility of LIGS?
Does not the Sabah government allocate big budgets as huge as RM400-RM500 million every year for Agriculture Ministry?
Not only does the Sabah government not help make Sabah rubber industry more competitive; in fact it is making it more difficult to advance as their small capital for the rubber business has to take into account of the LIGS expenses?
Doesn’t Yahya Hussin the Agriculture minister allocate funds for LIGS annually?
Why should LIGS implement such a policy that is a burden to our smallholders and effectively reduce the competitiveness of Sabah’s rubber industry?
As such, it is no wonder that LIGS is able to accumulate over RM100 million of revolving funds over the past six years and I won’t be surprised at all if this revolving fund even breaks the RM200 million mark in near future.
A Warisan government will make sure that LIGS is there to serve, assist and facilitate, as well as protect the smallholders’ interests and enhance the competitiveness of the industry. The responsibility of LIGS should include taking care of their own expenditure, NOT accumulating funds.
- Junz Wong is Likas Assemblyman and Vice President Parti Warisan Sabah
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