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Let's not quarrel over Sabah
Published on: Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Gawad Kalinga (GK), Philippine's poverty alleviation and nation-building movement that builds integrated, holistic and sustainable communities in slum areas and remote rural communities, believes Malaysia and the Philippines should not be fighting over territories such as the Sabah claim.

Instead, both countries should be working in unison to improve the lives of poor people regardless of nationalities.

"For so long Sabah has always been a symbol of conflict for Malaysia and the Philippines. And I personally think that we should now start working together to improve the lives of poor people regardless of whether they are Malaysian or Filipino," Gawad Kalinga Founder, Tony Meloto, said.

Speaking at the public lecture entitled "Hap Seng Group Public Lecture Collaborating Across Borders to Alleviate Poverty" at Plaza Shell here, he said it is important that people should now learn to live as brothers and sisters to eradicate poverty in our respective countries, region and the world in general.

"If we have to build something in Sabah, it should not be exclusively for Filipinos...it has to be for the most disadvantaged group of people in the locality," said Tony.

"Any projects to help alleviate poverty in Sabah in the future will not be political," he said, adding that Sabah is blessed with human resources and it's just a matter of all parties working together.

"This is my first time to visit Sabah and I managed to meet some people here from the NGOs to discuss the movement's advocacy on poverty alleviation," said Tony, who is now building an inclusive platform for global partnerships, particularly in Europe, having partnered with 32 European universities, 22 of which are French, attracting an average of 250 interns every year since 2012.

He also said any meaningful projects to be implemented here by the movement must be founded with relationship as family and friends regardless of Malaysian, Indonesian or any other nationality.

Described by many as a true man for others, Tony said the platform for global partnerships aims to promote social entrepreneurship for inclusive growth, bridging Europe through internships and humanitarian service with the Asian market to discover the vast opportunities in the emerging economies, with the Philippines as the hub.

Giving a brief background of the movement to his audience, Tony said GK has been implemented in almost 2,500 communities in the Philippines and other developing countries such Indonesia, Cambodia and Papua New Guinea.

"GK is not just a provider of housing but communities where beneficiaries are trained to cultivate sustainable sources of livelihood. GK has now entered into its second phase of development focused on integrating sustainability in communities it has built through the GK Enchanted Farm Village University Template," he said.

Meanwhile, the morning public lecture organised by Hap Seng Group was attended by more 100 personalities coming from local NGOs and business personalities.

The public lecture was designed to enrich and support social and at the same time encourage networking and collaboration among activists, NGOs and social entrepreneurs locally and internationally. - Nikko Fabian

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