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Sabah Royal Commission of Inquiry report: Will the government act?

Royal Commission of Inquiry on Sabah immigrants

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Is the Election Commission going to launch a state-wide clean-up of the state’s electoral lists after the release of the inquiry report on Sabah immigration, wonders W H Cheng.

Royal Commission of Inquiry on Sabah immigrants
Royal Commission of Inquiry on Sabah immigrants

The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the undocumented immigrants in Sabah report has just been finalised and released to the public after months of hearings and investigations.

Some major points to be looked at: in 2000, there were about 600,000 foreigners in Sabah. Ten years later, in 2010, there were about 889,780 foreigners in the state. That is a drastic increase, perhaps an uncontrolled one, of a large number of foreigners arriving into the state in just ten years.

From 1996 to 2000, about 457,850 Indonesians entered Sabah, but only 228,370 left the state and during the same period too, about 210,910 Filipinos entered the state but only 199,170 left.

The question here is, where did the 229,480 Indonesians and 11,740 Filipinos go? They cannot just vanish like that without a single trace.

Why is there no report on the foreigners’ entries from 2001 to 2014? Why is there no scrutiny for this particular period, which may also see yet another increase in the number of these foreigners in Sabah?

It has also been reported that local birth certificates can also be easily bought at a price ranging from RM3,500 to RM4,000. Citizenship via the National Registration Identity Card (NRIC) allegedly can also be bought with a price ranging from RM2,000 to RM5,000 each.

The RCI also reported that 48 immigration entry points in the state used by these foreigners are badly lacking in surveillance, monitoring and security systems.

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Birth certificates and citizenship apparently can be bought easily like trading in the share market.

Have many of these foreigners with NRICs also registered themselves as voters and voted in state and general elections? This is the question that all genuine Sabahans have been asking all this while and it is still left unanswered until today.

Sabahans in the state have been worried, disappointed and angered for decades by this mass influx. The continuous influx could now mean that foreigners may have outnumbered the real citizens of the state by now.

Hasn’t the federal government realised that the situation in Sabah is getting out of control and has become a major threat to our nation’s sovereignty? Didn’t the authorities learn from the two intrusions by the Sulu terrorists recently and the various kidnappings in Sabah?

True, the federal government has agreed to the setting up of a permanent committee, which will be jointly headed by Sabah chief minister Musa Aman and Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. And a working committee, headed by PBS president Joseph Pairin Kitingan, will study and decide on the next course of action after the report. Recommendations would be submitted to the Cabinet for approval.

But apart from this, what is the Election Commission (EC) going to do after the RCI report, which reported that foreigners had also registered as voters? Is the EC going to launch a state-wide clean-up of the state’s electoral lists? Has the EC initiated any concrete action based on the RCI report? What are they waiting for?

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On the dubious citizenship, is the National Registration Deprtment (NRD) going to initiate any clean-up and start re-screening all the “citizens” in the state to remove the fakes from their lists?

Now, let us look at the Sabah BN state government. They don’t seem to have given much priority to this matter. It is puzzling that, instead, they seem to have distanced themselves from the entire episode.

Sabah BN component parties, particularly Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), United Pasok Momugun Kadazandusun Organisation (Upko), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and Sabah Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which had been so vocal in wanting this issue to be resolved now seem powerless. They cannot even pressure the Umno-led BN state government to push the federal authorities for more measures to be taken to ensure the state’s sovereignty is secured.

Then, why are PBS, Upko, PBRS and LDP still in Sabah BN when they already know of their powerless situation within the coalition and are unable to do anything to protect the local communities there and the state and to address the plight of their people?

To all the leaders of PBS, Upko, PBRS and LDP, the ball is in your court now and it is time you decide the fate of your home state before you are further betrayed.

W H Cheng, an Aliran member, is director of Inter-Research And Studies (IRAS), a Penang-based mini-research outfit and pressure group.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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