Tun Abdul Taib gets prestigious award as advocate of development communication
Released Date : 5 December 2015
Posted By: Admin
Essentially, the process of development must bring about positive changes, which begin with perception and the way people think and subscribe to the concept of development in the overall efforts to improve their livelihood.
It takes time and persistent efforts to explain to the people any development projects of significant that have been planned for their area. The people deserve good or factual information, which is the critical component of empowerment, of the projects and how they can benefit from them.
In this regards, civil servants those on the ground in particular, as communicators of development, must make continuous efforts to refine their messages in communicating the development goals to the people.
Now civil servants, who are having a close relationship with the people, are being welcomed by them. They are very grateful to civil servants for the benefits they get from development. Generally, the people are very warm towards civil servants while doing their works in their areas.
The Governor of Sarawak, Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, who served as the fourth Chief Minister from March 26, 1981 to February 28, 2013, realised this from the very beginning. He knew that the process of development would not be successful unless it could raise the level of support and involvement of the people in it.
He emphasised from the beginning that the people must be empowered to bring about positive changes to their livelihood from what they used to have immediately after Independence and what they can hand over to the new generation after 50 years of it.
He believed that any information without the truth would not last long. Hence, civil servants, as communicators of development, must disseminate correct information to the people, though it would take a lot of their efforts and time.
Only good or factual information will help the process of development to move forward; inaccurate one will slow it down. In other words, it is an empowerment to give only the correct information that is relevant to the setting of the society to the people.
The College of Development Communication of the University Los Banos, the University of the Philippines takes cognizance of Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib’s role in advocating and putting into practice the principles and practices of development communication in the process of development in Sarawak.
The University has awarded Tun Abdul Taib, the first person outside the Philippines, its prestigious recognition certificate for his pioneering efforts in the application of the principles of Development Communication in the process of development, which has successfully lifted Sarawak from the back lane of development to become one of the fasting developing states in the country.
The citation reads: This Champion of Development Communication award is given to His Excellency Tun Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud for his pioneering efforts in the application of Development Communication principles in his “Politics of Development” governance model as Chief Minister of Sarawak, Malaysia from 1983 – 2013.
His Excellency, in thanking the University for the Award, said though the award is given in his name but it came about through efforts of the people in Sarawak Development Institute (SDI). The honour is not his alone; he only represents all the people in SDI.
He said SDI, which has already awarded him Leading Advocate of Development Communication Award, came about because of the closeness of the government with the people in all efforts to bring about development. The situation now is that every level of the society from the Chief Minister down to a Penghulu understands that no development can take place and progress well unless everybody is involved.
The good understanding of the people on process of development has made it very easy for the government to implement its policies; no doubt it was not easy in the beginning with the people criticizing the government for most of its projects. For example, the people, the moment they saw surveyors from Land and Survey coming to their Kampong or longhouses, would immediately react that the Government had the plan to take away their land. They should prepare to launch the counter offensive to the government’s efforts to take over their land.
Gradually, the people relented due to persistent efforts to explain to them that their land would be used to construct roads, schools or clinics or any other projects for their own benefits. Sometimes civil servants had to tussle with people in affected longhouses or Kampung but near the end they became co-operative with the government in development.
Tun Abdul Taib said for all the propaganda of the opposition, none of the lands, acquired for development had been taken for free from the people. The lands, after being compensated, were used to build facilities like roads, schools, clinics or any other government projects for them.
He thanked all government officers, who had to face hostile reactions from the people because of they had misunderstood the concept of development. Now it becomes easier for the government to acquire land for development as the people get completed roads, clinics and schools on them.
Tun Abdul Taib said Sarawak has successfully completed 10 Malaysia Plans with an average of at least 73% of projects and programs being implemented. Sometimes, the Government had to do something extra as the main reason that it could only implement about 73% of the originally planned projects.
The State government would normally add some more projects after the mid-term review of a Plan or half way through the development period. However, this does not become an issue as long more programs or projects can be implemented for the people. Generally, the people look forwards to their projects to be included during the mid-term review of every Malaysia Plan.
His Excellency said most civil servants now realize they get very hostile reactions from the people in development efforts when a project is not well understood or there are people expressing false propaganda against it. This happened very clearly during the period of the preparations and construction of Bakun hydro dam. It became less hostile with the construction of Murum hydro dam.
Obviously, conscientious efforts must be made to explain to the people what projects had been planned for their area so that they could understand better the benefits they could get from them. Otherwise, it would not be easy to implement the project as the process required the people’s involvement in it.
Tun Abdul Taib said civil servants, as communicators of development, should endeavour to refine their messages in communicating the development goals and getting the people to co-operate on how they could improve their way of life. Generally, the people can anticipate what they can get like better prizes for their land to be acquired for development. Sometimes, they would demand for more money from their lands upon being instigated by hostile parties from outside
Hence, efforts must be made to counter their demands by explaining that the people will get more benefits after the completion of any project and not merely from the compensation of their land.
Tun Abdul Taib said all the areas that have been developed for hydro dams have in fact been receiving a lot of benefits from them. Each family, which the people do not know, gets nearly RM2 million in terms of compensation. They have to be removed from their original places to new places under the resettlement programs.
Basically, resettling people are very expensive. Therefore, the less the Government is burdened by squabbles and quarrels of the people, the better it will be in helping the affected people to be resettled in new areas.
Tun Abdul Taib said he discovered quite early in the 60s that development communication was very important element in any development efforts. For example, he had to organize many meetings with the people before he could carry out minor rural roads, footpath or laying cement slabs in Kampong or villages. Near the end, the people started to appreciate their lands were actually used for their own projects.
Then Tun Abdul Taib started to promote the spirit of self help or Gotong Royong among the people with a Malay pantun as : Gotong royong sama sekampong, Rugi untung kita sama sama tanggung or translated roughly as practising the spirit of self - help in a Kampong, success or failure the people take the responsibility. The pantun, when put into jingle, becomes very popular among the people, who can easily remember it.
He started to see less and less resistance towards development among the people after meeting with them. Instead the opposite occurred with the people wanting more and more projects to be carried out in their areas; some wanted them instantaneously.
He said Sarawak is very lucky to have civil servants, who are prepared to work hard in implementing projects to serve the cause of development. The civil servants whether they are Chinese serving in Malay areas or Malays serving in Chinese areas are being received very well by the people. They are looked upon as agents of change.
He said the people, regardless of their ethnicities or religious beliefs should all be very proud to realize that racial or religious differences do not matter very much among them; there are not much racial issues in Sarawak.
In fact, the local people, when they hear other people talking about racial issues, do not like such talks and snap back to remind them that they should not be instigators in their midst.
He believed development communication would become more useful as Sarawak embarks on the new phase of development. It would be more useful in upgrading the knowledge and capability of the people to do a lot more work in implementing development efforts.
Tun Abdul Taib believes Sarawak, which still has a long way to go, will have a lot more people to contribute towards greater progress and development in order to become the most progressive state in the country by the year 2030. In this regards, the people whether they are Malays, Chinese, Ibans, Bidayuhs and Orang Ulu must remain steadfast in preserving the history of binding them together in the adventure called the development efforts.
He believed that Sarawak would be able to attain the status of a developed state well before the year 2020, depending on how the people read economic figures. His guess is by the year 2017 or 2018 Sarawak will become a developed state, depending on how the economic figures are being interpreted. It will be earlier than the year 2020.
He said Sarawak is very lucky to have been able to achieve what it set out to do since the early 80s. The task looked very large when Sarawak first started to undertake massive development 20 or 30 years ago. Admittedly, Sarawak Development Institute (SDI) was quite amateurish initially in the art of communicating to the people. But it has ended up not only having wealth of information about the government development plans and projects but what it ought to do with the people.
Obviously, the people in SDI, who have gathered a lot of knowledge and experience, are certainly being armed with the realization and understanding of how to approach the people, who they want to help in any parts of Sarawak.
He thanked SDI for the support and co-operation that have been rendered to him to bring about success in development, which is something that can be handed over to the younger generations to build on in order to make bigger and more effective development efforts towards the year 2030 and beyond.