Final presentation of the Sabah study on Christian-based social organisations, 1 June 2018

Prof Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria presented his final research report on the JPNIN funded research on the role of Christian social organisations in addressing socio-economic development concerns in Sabah.

The review meeting which was held this morning on June 1, 2018, was chaired by the Director General of JPNIN and attended by different officials from the department.

This study, “A Study on the Role of the Christian Community in Fostering Community Cohesion through Socio-economic Development in Sabah” (Project Code: RE-2016-005), utilised a number of research methods such as focus group discussions, field visits and questionnaire study identified 23 Christian based socio-economic organisations operating on the Christian belt between Kota Kinabalu and Kudat. It covered organisations directly run by the churches such as the Protestant Church of Sabah (PCS), The Evangelical Church of Sabah (SIB) and the Basel Church of Sabah as well as others registered under the Registrar of Societies.

In his presentation, Datuk Denison highlighted five major challenges such as issues faced by the organisations with regards to funding and personal, issues related to indigenous rights of the native Christians, customary land rights, issues of undocumented people & migrant community and finally the religious freedom issues and concerns.

In addition he highlighted five innovative practices which provides best practices for others to learn from it. The five major innovations are community forestry projects, eco-tourism, community learning centres, alternative learning centres and youth development centres. These are community led and funded through local resources with very little funding for the government.

Christians form 26.6% of the Sabah state population, majority are native indigenous community who are Bahasa speaking and in the villages visited form about 99% of the population. It is necessary to recognise this rich diversity and both Federal and State governments must do much more to support ‘faith based organisations’ in this partnership model in addressing grassroots concern so as to ensure that ‘no one is left behind.’