Global Research Assembly


July 4, 1979



Last January, the Chief Minister, or Governor of the state of Sabah, made a site visit to the Serusup Human Development Project. Seeing the possibility there, he agreed to help implement some of the economic programs planned by the villagers in June of 1978 during the Consult. He gave Serusup six months to produce and become an economic demonstration to all of Sabah.

Now, a half year later, Serusup has won. The three economic programs implemented were, first, the fish farm; second, the handicrafts industry; and third, the chicken and duck farms. The fish farm is made up of ten units each holding 3600 growing fish. The total is 36,000 fish which sell at about $4.50US a piece. There are 27 people presently employed making fish traps, building the cages, managing, marketing and building the jetty to store supplies.

The handicrafts industry is a sub­company and makes two different products: rotan or rattan boxes, and pandan hand bags. The pandan industry is the first in all of Sabah and more than 30 women work from 8am­4:30pm six days a week. It has a guaranteed private export market and its products have won first, second and third prizes in the State Fair.

Stakes have taken responsibility for the raising of ducks and chickens. At present, the 1000 chickens are divided into 20 coops or five per stake. Gotong Royongs or work days were held to build the coops as soon as the materials were available. Since January 1979, 73 people have been employed, 40% of the employable population.

The breakthrough last year for the project was the formation of the Serusup community company, Syrikat Maju Jaya Serusup. The board of directors includes one leader from each guild and one leader from each stake, who were elected at a community meeting. The profits from all of the economic programs go directly to the Serusup company and are divided into five categories: l) to support the social programs, 2) to sustain the economic programs, 3) to initiate new programs, 4) to pay back joint ventures, and 5) to pay shares to Serusup villagers. Every villager above the age of 18 automatically receives one share. Additional shares may either be purchased for 80 Malaysian dollars, or obtained by working 80 hours for the company by raising chickens, painting the handicrafts building, making benches for the preschool, etc.

The key to the breakthrough in creating the Syrikat Maju Jaya Serusup was the successful working relationship or joint ventures with semi-government agencies. The two joint ventures are with the fish farm and the duck and chicken farms. Joint ventures proved more helpful in economic development than either loans or direct government grants. The fish farm is jointly owned with Ko Nelayan, an agency dealing with Sabah's fish projects. For every dollar of profit made, 20¢ goes to Ko Nelayan and 80¢ to the village. The joint venture arrangement is the most effective because of the shared responsibility exercised by the owners. Another factor in the economic victories has been the organization of the stakes and guilds. These two structures have allowed the local villagers to participate fully in both the economic and social programs of the project.

The success of the economic programs has been key in the human development of Serusup. The villagers hadn't worked or cooperated with each other since 1976. Divided loyalties had split the people of the village so that many would not work with their neighbors. As they became involved in the economic programs they met together in guild meetings, stake meetings and community workdays. The economic programs played a major role in breaking through the major contradiction in Serusup.