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Friday, August 10, 2018

Warisan's special passes to illegal immigrants part of a larger plan?

KOTA KINABALU - Sabah Umno Youth has slammed a state government proposal to issue special work passes to illegal immigrants to solve a labour shortage in the plantation sector.

Its chief, Abdul Aziz Julkarnain, said the move appeared to be “rewarding” foreigners entering the state to work illegally.

Speaking to reporters here today, Aziz said Sabah Umno Youth opposed the proposal as it did not respect the sensitivity of people in the state.

He pointed to a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in 2015 which revealed that out of 2.6 million non-citizens in Malaysia, more than half were in Sabah.

As such, he said, giving work passes to these people would drastically change the demography, socio-economy and culture in the state.

He claimed most crimes in Sabah were committed by immigrants, particularly illegal immigrants.

“The social stigma against illegal immigrants in the state is still strong among locals, no thanks to the Tanduo incident (in which a large group of armed Filipinos landed near Lahad Datu) in 2013 which is still too near to forget.

“Furthermore, just recently, a former Filipino senator even had the gall to propose that Sabah be made the 13th state of his country.

“This made me wonder whether the work pass proposal is a mere coincidence or part of an agenda,” he said.

Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said in June that the labour shortage, particularly in the plantation sector, needed to be addressed because the oil palm sector was crucial for Sabah’s economic growth and to ensure ample revenue.

Aziz singled out Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman, who is the youth chief of the ruling Parti Warisan Sabah, for criticism for willing to forgo the rule of law when it came to illegal immigrants who flouted the immigration law.

He said it was “bizarre” that instead of punishing these people, the government intended to reward them.

Under the Immigration Act, offenders are liable to be fined not more than RM10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years or both as well as whipping not more than six times.

“Does the state government intend to disrespect this law? Is this the new Malaysia or Sabah Ubah they had been harping on during their election campaign?” he said.

Aziz reminded Azis that he had promised to solve the unemployment problem in Sabah and the government should do this by giving priority to locals.

He said giving work passes to foreigners would encourage more illegal immigrants into Sabah because they would think their presence was welcomed with ready jobs for them.

The money paid to these people would also end up in their countries of origin, causing billions of ringgit to flow out of Malaysia, he added.

He also cautioned the government to uphold the country’s sovereignty and security instead of taking the easy way out without thinking of the long-term effects.

“These people could one day become time bombs. We know all too well how the Philippine government still struggles to contain subversive and terrorist groups in their country even after decades of military campaigns.

“Are we ready to accept subversive groups coming to this country if they just happened to be included in the list of those legalised by the government?” he said.

He proposed that these illegal immigrants be arrested and deported.

If they still wanted to come back to work, they should use the proper channels and be subjected to security clearance like everyone else, he said.

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