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
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
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.