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2008 Oct 20 - They're mother of all threats in Sabah: MP

They're mother of all threats in Sabah: MP

Tony Thien | Oct 20, 08 7:16pm

Sabah Progressive Party (Sapp) parliamentarian Dr Chua Soon Bui has told Parliament today described the illegal immigrants issue as 'the mother of all threats in Sabah'.

The MP, who left the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition last month, said that while the issue of illegal immigrants is a national threat, the problem is being shouldered mostly by Sabahans.

Debating the 2009 Budget, Chua echoed the frustrations of her fellow Sabahans in responding to the oft-repeated government's excuse that "Sabah has a very long and porous border which is difficult to police".

The rebel MP said that the explanation is simply not good enough. She explained that neighbouring Sarawak has an even longer border with Indonesia, yet there are fewer illegal immigrants there than Sabah.

population boom in sabah 061008If Sabah was to reflect the population growth rate in Sarawak, its population should have been around 1.4 million in 2004, the now Independent Tawau MP said.

Instead, there appeared to be an extraordinary "surplus" of 1.9 million Sabahans.

This figure does not include the illegal immigrants who have either overstayed or come to Sabah without any official travel documents, decried Chua.

The official figure for illegal immigrants who were arrested in 2007 was around 500,000, but it is believed that those who went undetected could be a few more times.

They were once temporary refugees

According to the Sapp MP,  most Malaysians living in Sabah feel theatened and insecure as the number of foreigners keep increasing, although no one, including the government, really knows the precise figures.

"They are on an upward trend every day. They are changing the economic, social, cultural and political landscapes of Sabah. Our future generations, our grand or grand-grand children will blame us one day if they find out that today we are not doing anything to protect their right to the ownership of our land.'
Chua lamented that Malaysia is neither a state party to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951 nor the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees 1967.

During the late 60s or the early 70s, about 60,000 refugees from southern Philippines came to Sabah and were given IMM13 status, which allow them to stay temporary in Sabah.

Some settled down in the UN refugee camps in Tawau. More than 40 years later, many of these refugees have married locals and were awarded Malaysian citizenship but some still hold the IMM13.

"What policies do the authorities plan to implement regarding the 'refugee' status of those still holding IMM13? Why were IMM13 still issued in 2002 although the Immigration Department was not supposed to do so after 1984?" asked Chua.

Foreigners get preferential treatment

The Sabah MP also claimed that foreigners are getting preferential treatment in obtaining citizenship.

Chua cited several examples, including the case of a 24-year-old Filipina, who has a birth certificate indicating she is not a Malaysian citizen. Her parents, as indicated in her birth certificate, are also not Malaysian citizens.

In 1998, her father obtained the "bunga raya" (blue) identity card and subsequently a 'MyKad' in 2000.

This particular case indicated that despite the Filipino man, his wife and daughter were not Malaysians, the father had successfully obtained a MyKad and Malaysian citizenship within two years.

Another example cited by Chua is the 2002 immigration raid in Keningau where 34 foreigners were found with MyKads, which proved to be genuine. The Mykads in their possession had yet to be introduced to the locals in Sabah at that time.

Yet another example Chua gave involved a 33-year-old local who was born on March 24, 1975 in Kampung Mandurian, Pitas.

Both parents were locals and have lived in the same village all their lives. Their son has a valid birth certificate issued by National Registration Department. He applied for a MyKad 12 years ago and is still waiting for it to be issued.

Chua also said hundreds of villagers in Murut as well as local Sabah natives in Serudung Baru, Srudung Laut and Kampung Ranggu in her constituency have been denied birth certificates and Malaysian citizenship due to late applications and the ignorance of their parents.

Penan community deprived

According to the Sapp MP, the recent exposure of alleged sexual abuse of Penan women in Sarawak had drawn national and international attention.
"We also have a small Penan community in Jalan Apas, Tawau. They have come to Sabah from Sarawak before the Independence. There were 68 families who until now have not been given the recognition and are still stateless," she lamented.

"What have they done to deserve this deplorable treatment in their own native land? I hope the authorities would expedite the approval of their applications.

"Itís so easy to recognise these people because of the native tongue and their 'kampung' of origin. For the ease of the application, please don't ask them to travel all the way to Kota Kinabalu to file their applications and to attend interviews as most of these families cannot afford the travel expenses."

The Sapp vice-president also wanted to know why these Sabahans are stateless, although they have never left the place where they were born, and why the authorities are giving preferential treatment to foreigners over local Sabahans.

Gov't-subdised hospital treatment

She said that on July 9, 2006, the health minister reported that Sabah hospitals were receiving the most number of foreigners, amounting to 30 percent of its patients.

On Nov 18, 2007, about 80 percent of Likas Hospital beds were taken up by illegal immigrants, who were regulars in the hospital and get government-subsidised medicines.

"We have overworked nurses, medical doctors, medical attendants and personnel to attend to the illegals, so much that our local Sabahans were sometimes neglected due to their excessive burden."

Chua said it cannot be denied that the illegal immigrants have contributed to the development of the state by providing workers especially in the construction and agriculture sectors.

She suggested that a comprehensive foreign labour policy on humanpower be implemented so the illegal immigrants worker are regularised.


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