Words by Hamza Delbar
Photos by Hamza Delbar
When the ISO Sabah team arrived at the PACOS Trust office in the village of Taman Flash Gordon, a charming lady who was very excited about our visit welcomed the team. Her name is Puan Anne Lasimbang and she is the executive director of PACOS Trust which is an NGO that is dedicated towards supporting the indigenous communities in Sabah. While introducing herself to the ISO Sabah team, she mentioned that she was a psychology student; and that intrigued me as I wondered what made her chose a path so far away from her educational background. So I decided to sit down with her to understand more and she said, “When I was young, I wanted to start a big business and be successful but my education also opened my eyes in a way I could understand the injustice that was happening in Sabah and I decided to do something about it”. However, she mentioned PACOS Trust does feel like a business with all the people she managed, including the school at the headquarters, the farm which is also located within the headquarters grounds and various other economic projects. “I see myself as a social entrepreneur and it gives me satisfaction to empower people and helping them achieve good things in life,” she said with a smile on her face.
Puan Anne welcoming all of us at the PACOS Trust headquarters
Nonetheless she said the most challenging part of her job is not the management of the daily operations but having to deal with governments and IGOs which she does not really enjoy but she is aware of the importance of tackling those operations carefully and effectively, so she had to learn many new things about lobbying and negotiating and she continues learning today 30 years after the NGO has been active. However, for something that Puan Anne stated she does not really enjoy, she has done exceptionally well with one of the biggest successes by getting the United Nations to recognise the declarations for indigenous people. She said, it is achievements like these that remind her of the importance of the work that they do at PACOS Trust and at the same time, motivate her to do more.
Puan Anne (on the right) explaining the challenges she faces as the executive director of PACOS Trust
Puan Anne used the river analogy to describe her approach in dealing with a situation. She said, just like the river, we have a destination that we intend to reach; but sometimes, obstacles gets in the way; sometimes they can be as small as a tree or as big as a mountain; but just like the river, we need to find our way around the obstacles and make sure we reach the intended destination.
Hamza is a Mauritian that fell in love with Malaysia. He does not believe that Malaysia is a great country. On the contrary, he thinks there is so much that Malaysia needs to achieve especially in regards to political freedom but nonetheless he finds himself at home here and cannot go too long without Banana Leaf and Nasi Lemak.