PAITAN: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) President Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili urged Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal to find a better excuse over the decision to issue special passes for refugees from southern Philippines in the state.
“He (Shafie) said the Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) is issued to enable the government to closely monitor foreigners in the State, so what has the enforcement agencies been doing all these while?
“Don’t tell me the police, marine, immigration and ESSCom (Eastern Sabah Security Command) have not been doing their jobs … I thought they are the ones who are supposed to check, monitor and send the illegal immigrants back to their countries of origin,” he said.
Ongkili, who was responding to Shafie’s recent statement on PSS said the state government’s arguments are baseless, adding that issuing the special pass is tantamount to giving the illegal immigrants the Permanent Residence status.
“Do not ‘gadai’ (pawn) Sabah to the illegal immigrants. Sabah is ours, we need to protect this state for the good of our future generations,” he said, when addressing members at the 34th PBS N39 Sugut annual general meeting at Kampung Kubambangan here.
In questioning the special pass, Ongkili is intrigued about who would benefit from it and what are the processes and selection criteria.
“Who are these people? What are the criteria to be given a pass? If they are existing refugees, how is it possible to have some 600,000 of them when in the 1980s, the number were just between 30,000 to 40,000 and probably went up to 70,000 over the years. The last count was about 130,000, plus dependants.
“PBS fear that the PSS is a prelude to give them permanent residence status, and eventually citizenship. If this happens, we will lose Sabah to the illegal immigrants, they will populate our state,” he said.
As such, Ongkili reiterated PBS’ call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the issuance of citizenship documents in Sabah.
“These alleged 600,000 illegal immigrants must first be screened, registered and deported. They can only come back through the proper way. Stop mocking around with citizenship rights.
“Professor Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi of UCSI University wrote recently that this year’s Merdeka (independence) is meaningless for the nation because it entrenches itself into old political mindsets.
“Basically he is saying that if we don’t do anything, the country will go down the drain. We in PBS share his sentiments and believe that the country, and state in particular, must act fast to save it from destruction,” he said.
Ongkili added that Sabah is open to foreigners, but they must enter the state through proper channels, and free itself from illegal immigrants.
“We do not want them to be the ones who determine the government. That privilege is rightfully for genuine citizens only,” he said.