KOTA KINABALU: The chairman of the technical committee on the management of foreigners in Sabah, Tan Sri Pairin Kitingan, believes that they should be able to come up with a list of recommendations for the government towards tackling the issue of illegal immigrants in the state.
Pairin, who was met after chairing the committee’s meeting at Wisma Innoprise yesterday, said the committee could in fact be able to come up with the list of recommendations now if they wanted to but they did not want to be hasty on the matter.
“We have to be serious and recommendations must also be practical; it cannot be just simply expressed out of sheer imagination. We have to be practical in our approach,” the Deputy Chief Minister said.
The Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president also disclosed that two groups had submitted their recommendations to the committee which would be compiled and gone through one by one.
“The first group comprised of several state leaders ,including Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Datuk Yong Teck Lee, Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Bumburing and a few others. We heard from the second group today and it was led by Dr Chong Eng Leong who was accompanied by members from the Sabah Law Association,” he said.
They briefed the committee and forwarded some recommendations which would be taken into consideration, he added.
Pairin added that the group had also asked the committee about the government’s seriousness in tackling this issue.
“Our reply was that we have to assume that the government is serious because if it was not, there would not have been the setting up of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, ESSCom, the decision to increase the manpower and logistics of security forces and steps to control our borders.
“It shows that the government is serious in assisting Sabah. Our part now is to compile the ideas that will be used as the basis for our recommendations of an action plan for the government so that it can take the necessary measures in addressing the issue.
“What we want to stress now is for all of us to put everything on the table. Please tell us what you think or feel that the government should do in order to tackle this issue effectively. Put it down in writing so that we have a record,” he said, adding that the technical committee would take into consideration all views and opinions no matter how minor.
Pairin also said there was a need to focus on a few categories such as the action plan for the government to implement and what the government was doing now to tackle the illegal immigrants problem not only in Sabah but throughout the country had brought relief to the people.
This showed that the government was serious in tackling the problem, he said adding: “We take this as a positive action from the government and this will continue because on the principle and in law, no one should enter the country without proper travel documents.
He expressed hope that the Malaysian government would hold diplomatic dialogues with its ASEAN counterparts so that a system could be set up and measures taken to tackle the problems associated with the presence of illegal immigrants.
According to Pairin further, the committee had also been briefed by the relevant agencies such as Immigration Department and National Security Council.
Among the suggestions the Immigration Department had was that the government should look at the weaknesses in our laws so that they could be improved upon, he said, adding that there was a need to increase the number of temporary detention centres and also expedite the deportation process.
“Those who have any recommendations are welcome to submit them to the committee in written form because we do not want to miss out on any good ideas,” he said.
When asked to reveal some of the recommendations the committee had received, Pairin replied: “There are many but it is not the time to reveal them. In the end, we must seriously implement the ‘prevention is better that cure’ approach so that no more can come in without documents and deportation is a must because those without documents cannot stay here.
“We must also ensure that those non-citizens who are in the electoral roll, their names must be deleted,” he said.
Meanwhile, co-chairman of SLA RCI sub-committee, Datuk John Sikayun who was met after their briefing with the committee, said the association was ready to extend its assistance to the government towards resolving the problem.
“We have submitted our recommendations to the RCI and some of them have been incorporated into the RCI Report. However, there are still more to be taken into consideration (by the committee),” he said.
Sikayun added that some of SLA’s recommendations zoomed in on the legal aspect of the issue and included enforcements and proposals of rectification.
Among the recommendations was also the need for the government to take action against the wrong doers or those responsible for issuing Malaysian ICs to illegal immigrants.