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2008 Sep 30 - Denial of citizenship, a breach of Msia Agreement

Denial of citizenship to Yong Lee Hua, a breach of Msia Agreement

Kota Kinabalu (30 September 2008): SAPP: Denial of citizenship to Yong Lee Hua@Piang Lin is a breach of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, put NRD under the State Government

It has to be reminded to the National Registration Department that, under the terms of the Malaysia Agreement 1963, every resident of Sabah (North Borneo) on the formation of Malaysia was automatically accepted as a citizen of the federation (of Malaysia). By virtue of her being a Sabah native in 1963, it is clear that she qualifies as a Malaysian citizen.

What the NRD had done to Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin is a breach of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 and could be taken to a court of law. How can a genuine Sabahan Malaysian lose her citizenship so casually whereas other foreigners can become citizens so easily?

This is why the case of Yong Lee Hua@Piang Lin has so infuriated many people to the extent that even the Chief Minister has to tell the authorities to rectify the problems. With the media coverage and immense pressure from UPKO and the intervention of the Chief Minister, I believe that the case of Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin will be resolved.

If UPKO, whose President is the most senior in the federal cabinet after the PM and DPM, and the Sabah Chief Minister cannot resolve this case, then nothing will. But what is more worrying is whether there are other cases of genuine Sabahans losing their Malaysian citizenships without the due process of law.

What has happened in the recent decade is that many foreigners were able to obtain citizenship documents whether through legal or dubious means. These new citizens have become not only Malaysians but Sabahans with right of abode and employment in Sabah. These new citizens in Sabah have therefore acquired rights that surpass that of other Malaysians in Peninsula Malaysia and Sarawak. They can enter and remain in Sabah whereas other genuine Malaysians (from Peninsula Malaysia and Sarawak) could still be subject to immigration controls and work passes.

By joining UMNO, many of these new citizens have also acquired political privileges and positions of influence in many districts. Some have even been successfully considered as bumiputras and can own native lands and enjoy other rights and privileges that surpass millions of other Malaysian non-bumiputras.

Under the terms of formation of Malaysia in 1963, entry in Sabah and Sarawak comes under the respective State government. The only persons that the State authority cannot prohibit from entering the State are federal civil servants on official duties in the State concerned. The spirit and intent of the Malaysia Agreement was to protect the Borneo states (Sabah and Sarawak).

There was a time in the 1980s when even a Member of Parliament from the Peninsula Malaysia was put on wheel chair and forcibly evicted from Sabah at the old Kota Kinabalu airport at Tanjong Aru, although many people did not agree with the abuse of the State's immigration powers in such manner, that power remains intact because the Director of Immigration complied with a State directive. But there is no assurance that the director will comply with State directives if his superiors and (federal) Minister were to disagree with a directive of the State. After all, some directives are administrative and discretionary in nature and not a matter of strict law that an officer of the government must comply with.

Once the foreigners have obtained Mykad, they are no longer subject to immigration controls. Mostly, they have become first class citizens.

Therefore the long term solution to this kind of problem is to place the National Registration Department under the State Government. The State Government should initiate discussions with the Federal Government to make the NRD a State department.

SAPP President Datuk Yong Teck lee


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