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Monday, February 29, 2016

Over 200 stage protest rally against Bangla workers

KOTA KINABALU - About 200 people took part in a rally on Sunday to protest against the import of 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers and press for the release of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) Technical Committee Report on illegal immigrants in Sabah.

The peaceful rally went ahead despite the Government's decision about two weeks ago to freeze the recruitment of all foreign workers.
Rally organisers said the decision does not guarantee that Bangladeshi workers would not be brought into the country.

Among those who took part in the one-hour rally were Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee, Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) President Dr Nicholas Guntobon, Sabah Star Chairman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan and United Sabah Alliance Chairman Datuk Mohd Noor Mansor

Also present were leaders of non-governmental organisations, namely the People's Solidarity (Sorak) Sabah, Jesselton Club, Sunduvan Sabah and the Association of Sabah Employees in Singapore.

Organised by Sorak, the rally heard short speeches given by local opposition party leaders and NGO representatives, under a close watch by police personnel. Hallway through the speeches, a team of Light Strike Force personnel arrived. No untoward incidents were reported.

"We're here today to strongly oppose the entry of 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers," said rally organising chairman, Clifford Spencer, adding that they were protesting on behalf of all Malaysians.

Aside from this, they demanded a speedy release of the RCI Technical Committee Report which they claimed is already long overdue.

RCI Technical Committee Chairman Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan had said early last month that the delayed report would be completed this year.

When interviewed after the rally, Yong (SAPP President) took another shot at the committee for the delay, saying the people have become "suspicious", "A delegation from the USA (United Sabah Alliance) met with the committee chairman in April last year. We were promised that the report would be ready in July.Then it was delayed until the end of the year.

We're disappointed. In fact, we're suspicious. Why can't the report be produced? We were asked to submit our proposals in response to the RCI report which we promptly did in April. But until now we don't even get a response. So we're suspicious with what is happening and the Government is suspiciously silent on the matter," he said.

He added that the delay has caused the people to become angry.

"Even before all the other issues are resolved (concerning illegal immigrants in Sabah), now we are already talking about an influx of (Bangladeshi) foreign workers,"

Rally organisers said people in the country are worried about the import of Bangladeshi workers in such a massive number, parficularly their impact social and security issues.

They argued that by allowing the workers to earn an income in the country would only contribute to loss of billions of ringgit as they will send their salaries back home. They insisted that it makes more economic sense to hire locals.

When announcing the Government's decision to freeze the recruitment of foreign workers, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi urged all employers to recruit local workers.

He had previously justified the Government's move to bring in Bangladeshi workers, whom he said would be here to the 3D jobs (dirty, difficult and dangerous) which were shunned by the locals.

Human Resource Minister Datuk Richard Riot had said the decision to freeze all recruitment of foreign workers does not affect the validity of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Bangladesh Government.

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Youth Media Secretary Jeffery George said merely freezing the decision does not guarantee that it will not be pursued again later.

The Sabah and Sarawak governments have adopted a policy not accepting Bangladeshi workers.

By Leonard Alaza

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