KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) deputy president Darell Leiking today lashed out at the Sabah government for its nonchalant attitude towards weak immigration checks.
He said this may have contributed to suspected Abu Sayyaf elements creeping into the country.
According to Darell, the now famous “Menumbok-Jesselton point loophole” had caused several immigration breaches over the years, resulting in non-Sabahans travelling in and out of Sabah without any proper checks.
“I have asked, actually demanded, the home ministry to explain to us why there is no immigration checkpoint at the Menumbok and Jesselton Point ferry jetties back in 2013 at the Dewan Rakyat.
“This was to ensure that only those with valid travel documents or passports are allowed to land and pass the guardposts or customs checks,” said Darell in a statement today.
“The home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, in his reply, confirmed there was no necessity for immigration inspection as the home minister’s directive, gazetted on July 26, 1984, and the Malaysian immigration circular, dated July 27, 1984, provided for automatic exemption to anyone (including foreigners) from having to produce his/her valid travel documents or passport when entering Sabah from Labuan.”
Leiking said he had subsequently highlighted the issue to the media in March 2015 when the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Richard Malanjum had questioned the presence of a large number of Pakistani nationals in the state.
“I have specifically pointed out that this loophole has caused us problems big time.
“We will continue to do so unless Chief Minister Musa Aman and his state BN cabinet ministers act immediately to rectify the matter,” he said.
“Now, the Immigration Department believes that seven Abu Sayyaf group members, who were recently nabbed by the Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter-Terrorism Division, while in the midst of planning to cause terror attacks during the Sea Games closing ceremony and National Day celebration parade, slipped into Kuala Lumpur by using this very same loophole.
“Sabah immigration director Musa Sulaiman has said there were previously no immigration checks at the island.”
This so-called “Menumbok-Jesselton point loophole”, according to Leiking, clearly portrays the failure on the part of Sabah BN itself to safeguard the state despite this being one of the important powers that Sabah’s founding forefathers wanted the state to keep.
“The Sabah founding forefathers’ rationale was understandable — they did not want the state to be overwhelmed by immigrants from Singapore and Malaya, which in turn would displace the local and genuine Sabahans, socially and economically,” said Leiking.
“Thus, doesn’t the failure to rectify these loopholes immediately tell us that Sabah BN has no real passion or commitment to safeguard Sabah’s special rights and privileges?
“This is despite all their assurances through the media, to the extent that they accused Warisan of only knowing how to talk while they ‘prefer to work in silence’.”
Leiking also took a swipe at Musa who had imposed an entry ban on human rights activist S Ambiga and PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli.
“Musa had imposed the entry ban on popular individuals who are striving to make the federation of Malaysia a better place.
“But he himself is unable to notice the existence of Pakistani citizens all around the state. We needed the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak to talk about it,” said Leiking.
“And now, we have reports stating that Abu Sayyaf elements have entered the state as early as 2015 and Musa is totally oblivious about when and how the group managed to slip in during that year.”
Leiking urged Musa and the state cabinet to explain how many Abu Sayyaf members have entered the state so far and made their way to Kuala Lumpur because of this Menumbok-Labuan loophole from 2015 until now.
“And are these Abu Sayyaf groups the same people identified by Zahid sometime a year ago as being Sulu commanders in every constituency in Sabah?
“And what is the assurance by Musa to Sabahans that he will find and detain these Abu Sayyaf members who may still be in the state?”