KOTA KINABALU 5/10/2012: PBS has urged Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz to clarify his statement in Parliament denying the security threat posed by the huge presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
PBS secretary general Datuk Henrynus Amin said PBS regretted the minister’s statement which he said was politically insensitive to grassroots sentiments in Sabah, especially their fears and concerns for their future well-being posed by the huge presence of illegal immigrants.
He said, rightly or wrongly, Nazri’s statement was fueling speculations in the streets as to the genuine commitment of the BN government to resolve the perennial problems of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
PBS therefore shares the views of the majority of the people of Sabah to disagree with the minister and join the chorus of voices to demand the minister clarify or correct his statement.
Henrynus advised Nazri to read a little bit of Sabah’s history, especially the Philippines’ claim to Sabah and the Indonesian policy of confrontation in the 1960s to appreciate the fears and concerns of the people of Sabah.
He said Nazri should also update himself with intelligence reports on criminal activities in Sabah by organized groups linked to terrorist organizations outside Sabah such as the abductions of foreign tourists at Sipadan Island many years ago by bands of the Abu Sayaf terrorist group from the Southern Philippines.
He said while PBS was not pointing fingers, the party was also not oblivious to the fact that there could be invisible hands trying to change the political demography of the state using the huge presence of illegal immigrants to the detriment of the indigenous community.
Henrynus reminded Nazri that Sabah’s decision to join the formation of Malaysia in 1963 was largely based on security concerns, not economics.
“Security issues related to the huge presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah are matters close to the hearts of the people of Sabah and have been and would always be raised by their political leaders to remind the federal government of their security obligations to Sabah,” he said.
Thus, PBS views the minister’s statement seriously as current thinking is that to deny the security threats posed by the huge presence of immigrants in Sabah is tantamount to denying federal responsibility or rather tantamount to renouncing federal security obligations to the people of Sabah under the Malaysia Agreement.
However, Henrynus said PBS understood and truly believed that the federal government would always recognize and was fully aware of the security threats posed by the huge presence of immigrants from neighboring countries as these were matters being discussed and deliberated upon all the time by security agencies at state and federal levels.
He said the setting up of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the huge presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah underscored the deep concerns and commitment of the BN government to the security and future well-being of the people of Sabah.
Henrynus urged the people of Sabah to focus and give a chance to the RCI to do their work and wait for the outcome of their investigations.
He said PBS’ support for the RCI was not to assign guilt but rather to seek and establish the truth or the facts related to the huge presence of illegal immigrants as well as the alleged ‘Project IC’ in Sabah to enable the relevant authorities, state or federal, to take the necessary action to ensure the security of the state.
Meanwhile, PBS Youth chief Datuk Jahid Jahim expressed disappointment with Nazri’s statement, saying it was sensitive and did not reflect the real situation or sentiments of people in Sabah.
Speaking to reporters after closing the Art of Creative Sewing Course at Akademi Jahitan Kota Kinabalu here yesterday, the Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports pointed out that the presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah and the problems arising from the situation is something that the people in the state have been living with all this while.
“We cannot say that the presence of illegal immigrants is and has not caused problems in Sabah and this is an insensitive statement for those who have to live with the presence of these transient migrants in Sabah.
“He (Nazri) does not feel it because he does not live in Sabah. Those who reside in Sabah cannot say that all is well and under control because in reality the situation is a ticking time bomb and once it explodes will bring about negative impact.
“We must remember that the Philippines’ claim on Sabah has not been dropped. So we want Nazri to heal the hurt he has inflicted on Sabahans through that statement. We want him to be more sensitive when making statements especially those that involve illegal immigrants,” he said.
Jahid felt that Nazri should have been more sensitive like Home Minister Datuk Seri Hihammuddin Hussein who gave an encouraging statement during his recent visit to Sabah.
“Datuk Seri Hishammuddin said that all government agencies will give support to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah. This is what we want, we do not want statements that deny issues which are instilled in Sabahans’ heart and soul as all statements must be on track with the real situation,” he stressed.
Nazri said earlier this week that the presence of 889,770 legal and illegal foreigners in Sabah is not a threat to the country or the state’s security and order.
He also said that while national population growth was 2.5 per cent annually, the growth in Sabah was higher.
“The population growth rate is higher in Sabah compared to Sarawak and Peninsular Malaysia for several reasons, including the presence of illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries,” he said in response to a question from Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing (Tuaran) on whether the presence of 800,000 foreigners in Sabah posed a threat to national safety and security.
He said the relevant authorities, including police, immigration, national registration and the Chief Minister’s Department were constantly monitoring the situation.
Beaufort Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Panglima Lajim Ukin also expressed disappointment with Nazri’s statement which not only concerns Sabahans but also other states where there are illegal immigrants.
“I am a close friend of Nazri and I am shocked with his statement as he should have taken into consideration the long term implications of the matter,” he said when met by reporters at a meet-the-people session in Beaufort on Wednesday night.