KOTA KINABALU July 15, 2011: Why is the Umno-led Sabah government repeatedly allowing multiple amnesty programmes for thousands of illegals in the state where legalised illegals already outnumber locals in population.
Posing this question, a puzzled former senator Dr Chong Eng Leong said since the 1990s, the Barisan Nasional government has been conducting an amnesty programme each time a hue and cry is raised over fears that the state is being overrun with illegal immigrants.
He said the multiple amnesties given to illegal immigrants eventually lead to permanent resident status and then citizenship and this encourages more to sneak in.
“The last one was from Aug 1 to Oct 31, 2008 for West Coast and early months of 2009 for East Coast.
“It was estimated that 150,000 illegal immigrants would come out but for West Coast alone 312,837 were registered.
“There was no final figure for East Coast. Within two years 500,000 or maybe more illegal immigrants managed to sneak into Sabah again.
“So what is the government’s real agenda behind the amnesty programme?” he asked.
Chong was commenting on a statement by the state secretary that the government is hoping to register 500,000 illegal immigrants during the July 18 to Aug 1 amnesty drive initiated by the federal government.
Chong said it did not make sense that the state government should continue to provide amnesty to 500,000 illegals when it has the power and means to stop them from entering the state in the first place.
He said the government was simply adding 500,000 more foreigners to the number of foreigners already in the state every few years and this has irreversibly overwhelmed the local population.
“As I have said umpteen times, Sabah is doomed as far as its sovereignty within Malaysia is concerned.
“May the Almighty have mercy on Sabahans especially the indigenous population.
“Where are the police who arrest people in yellow T-shirts or help pull down signboards but do not care a hoot about illegal immigrants roaming freely?
“Or do the police have to wait for instructions from superiors?”
The outspoken anti-illegal immigrant activist was puzzled why the state government was making no attempts to arrest and deport the large number of illegals .
He was especially baffled as to why the state government had failed to make good use of its existing power over immigration control to stop the federal government from granting citizenship to foreigners.
The author of “Lest We Forget”, the book on illegal immigrants and ‘Project IC’ issues, pointed out that sub-paragraph F2 of paragraph 16 in Chapter 3 (on Immigration) of the Intergovernmental Committee Report clearly stated that “Admission to Borneo State will not be granted to any other person or, class of person, whether from inside or outside Malaysia without the approval of the State concerned.”
And sub-paragraph F3 stated that “Any person whose presence in a Borneo State contrary to the provision of the paragraph above, or who’s presence is otherwise unlawful, whom the government of the state wishes to remove from the state, shall be so removed.”
“In other words, the final say in granting citizenship to a foreigner still lies in the hands of the state government.
“Hence, if the state government is really sincere and serious about safeguarding the sovereignty of the state and the wellbeing of its people, they should not hesitate to invoke such laws,” he said.
Chong is not alone in his worries about the changing demographic of the state.
Several politicians have also voiced their uneasiness over the massive foreign footprint in the state over the years since the BN coalition has governed the state.
They cite the steadily growing impact this group is making in determining the future of the country as well as the competition in various fields such as employment, business and education opportunities.