SANDAKAN May 17, 2011: Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that the government must look into the plight of stateless children in the state.
“We must find ways to resolve this outstanding issue once and for all,” he told reporters after his monthly ‘Bringing Service To The People’ programme at Sri Taman here on Sunday.
Liew said the Al Jazeera news channel last Saturday showed the problem of stateless children in Sabah.
They were snuffing glue and this gave a bad reflection of the real situation.
“These ugly scenes were taken in the city and the nearby Pulau Gaya. These stateless children do not represent the Malaysian society in Sabah. They are here because many of their parents, who are illegal immigrants, and have either abandoned them or left them when they were arrested or deported to their countries of origin,” said Liew who is the Sandakan member of parliament.
“The central issue is the massive illegal immigrants that have compounded us for decades. They are really a serious issue to deal with and we cannot pretend and hope they will go away one day. These children will grow up in our society. The issue is not going to disappear if we don’t do something,” he stressed.
The successive state governments have been looking into the illegal immigrants issue for decades.
A proactive approach with regards to these ‘children without names’ must be identified and pursued without fail, he added.
On the intention of the Philippines government to set up a consulate in Lawas, Sarawak, Liew said it would help the Filipino citizens who are here legally or otherwise.
“This is not really pertinent whether it is set up here in Sabah or not. To me personally, the fact speaks for itself that Sabah is part of Malaysia, constitutionally speaking. The fact remains that we, as a country, continue to have a diplomatic relationship with the Philippines government since 1963 is recognition of our sovereignty as a state in Malaysia.
I don’t think we need to go further than this,” he said.