KOTA KINABALU, February 29, 2016: More than 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
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, particularly 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
By Leonard Alaza (Daily Express)