Kota Kinabalu 14/03/2013: Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) said Sabahans have sounded the alarm bells for decades about the threat posed by illegal immigrants in Sabah but that it was Kuala Lumpur that seemed nonchalant about it.
Hence, the statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak describing the Sulu intrusion into Sabah as a wake-up call is already too late because serious damage had already been inflicted on Sabah, said its President, Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee.
"Many alarm bells were sounded by Sabahans over the decades but Kuala Lumpur never woke up until it is too late,"
he said in a statement.
The SAPP, he said, has all this while been pushing for more actions and resources to solve the illegals problem in Sabah as well as bring long term peace and prosperity to the BIMP-EAGA region and to fulfil Malaysia's security obligations to Sabah as promised during the formation of Malaysia.
He said the SAPP memorandum on "Illegal Immigrants: Mother of All Threats" and 14-point proposal, vociferous debates in parliament and cries of Sabahans have all been ignored by Kuala Lumpur.
Some Federal ministers, he said, were even irresponsible and negligent in claiming that these illegal immigrants are not a threat to Sabah's security.
But now that the illegal immigrant crisis has escalated through intrusion by the militant group from Southern Philippines, he said, Malaysia is now paying the price of past negligence and mistakes in national policies.
To this, the SAPP, he said, is calling on the government, especially Felda in Lahad Datu, to stop its land grabbing that have angered many locals with long term security implications.
"This land loss is compounded by Felda's breach of duty to allocate land to the settlers," he said.
As an example, Yong said, out of the 57 Felda Sahabat land schemes of 300,000 acres, only three schemes were allocated to settlers while the balance 54 schemes (95 per cent) were taken up by Felda Global as a lucrative business operation.
"This has been a very sore point among the villagers," he said.
He claimed that the villagers' worries were also compounded with the setting up of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) for fear that it might result in more land loss.
"But if indeed land is to be allocated for the Eastern Command, then the Felda land bank is the most obvious choice," he proposed.
He said the statement by Sabah Commissioner of Police, Datuk Hamza Taib, that villagers (evacuees) must prove land ownership before they are allowed to go back to their home will cause further distress to the local villagers who are living on village reserves and customary land that are without NT land titles.
To this end, Yong said if the government cannot win over the hearts and minds of the local villagers, military strength alone cannot bring long term peace to Sabah.