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Monday, July 16, 2018

Opposition leaders join rally against legalising illegal immigrants in Sabah

The rally, called “Black Sunday 10”, is held to protest the proposal by the government to provide documentation for illegal workers in the state

KOTA KINABALU - Senior opposition leaders joined a peaceful gathering here today to protest the state government’s recent proposal to legalise workers in Sabah.

The rally, called “Black Sunday 10”, was organised by the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) youth movement in collaboration with Solidarity Rakyat NGO Pro Sabah (Sorak).

It was aimed at voicing the concern of Sabahans on the consequences of the the plan.

Sorak chairman Jamain Sarudin said while they also did not agree with the new government’s decision to lift the pump boat ban in the east coast and the granting of land to squatters, giving legal papers to illegal foreign workers was the last straw.

“This is wrong according to immigration laws which states that a person who overstays his visa is deemed an illegal immigrant. For the government to provide legal documentation to them is unlawful.

“As such, we hold this protest today in the hope that the government will not provide them these papers. Such illegal workers should be tracked down, arrested, charged and then deported to their countries of origin,” he said.

He pointed out that illegals had no right to be in the state let alone work there.

At the same time, Jamain questioned why the Sabah government was not conducting operations to arrest illegal workers like what was being done in the peninsula.

“Chief Minister Shafie Apdal also proposed to allow foreign workers to bring along their families. This means they will need housing, medical treatment, education and other assistance… these are the rights of Sabahans, not theirs,” Jamain said.

Former state minister Jainab Ahmad, who offered her support to the rally as an ordinary citizen, labelled the current plan by the state government as a short-term solution.

She said it would add to the social ills in Sabah if the state went ahead with its plan instead of addressing the lack of job opportunities.

“I was the community development and consumer affairs minister before and I know of the many social ills resulting from this (illegal immigrants) issue.

“Imagine if we let their children and families in… I was also in charge of hospitals and welfare before. There were many people in the hospitals who were without (identification) documents.

“And the doctors were not able to look after Sabahans but instead were busy treating illegal immigrants. That was then but if we legalise them then it will be even more complicated,” said the Sepanggar Umno Wanita chief.

Jainab said the new government had strayed from its election manifesto of providing job opportunities to locals, particularly the youth in Sabah.

“They should sit down and discuss with all quarters no matter what the political ideologies (because) this is for the state. They (Parti Warisan Sabah) said previously ‘Sabah for Sabahans’… where is that now?”

SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said the gathering was a reflection of the people’s desire for the government of the day to ensure such problems would not happen again as it did during the Barisan Nasional administration.

“This shows that there is still a lot of concern among a lot of people on the issue of illegal immigrants even though it is now a new era.

“(That concern is) that the issue of illegals getting dubious citizenship will happen again. Consider this gathering as an expression of the people’s genuine concern,” he said.

Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR) president Jeffrey Kitingan said the proper way to provide papers to illegal foreign workers was to give amnesty.

“And then we can give them working passes. We don’t want another ‘Project IC No. 2’… that is the fear,” said the Keningau MP.

“Many of the illegals come from a country that is still maintaining its claim over our state. So long as that is not settled, this is a dangerous thing to do.

“Follow the rule of law and enforce it and then we will not object,” he said.

By Durie Rainer Fong 

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