KOTA KINABALU: A political activist has accused Parti Warisan Sabah leaders of sidestepping the matter of citizenship in the state, claiming that they are avoiding the issue instead of taking the necessary measures to address it.
Armizan Mohd Ali said Warisan permanent chairman Liew Vui Keong, who recently accused the opposition of creating propaganda on the issue, was trying to run away from the problem.
“Warisan leaders should understand that the people of Sabah are extremely sensitive when it comes to citizenship and immigration issues,” he told FMT.
“They should not resort to finger pointing. Instead, they should understand these concerns and take the necessary action to address the influx of illegal immigrants and cases of improper issuance of identity cards which have happened before.”
Yesterday, Liew who is the de facto law minister, claimed the opposition was using the issue of citizenship for illegal immigrants to cast Warisan in a bad light.
He said it was part of the opposition’s tactics to win back public support following its loss in the May 9 polls, and that Warisan did not rule out efforts by such parties to arrange for illegal immigrants to pretend to seek assistance in getting MyKads from the government.
Armizan said both the federal and state governments had recently announced policies that appeared to go against the wishes of Sabahans, particularly on citizenship.
“For example, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the granting of citizenship to Indians above the age of 60 who hold permanent resident status,” he said.
“It is concerning that this policy will be extended to cases in Sabah.”
Other proposals by the state government included the provision of new settlements for fire victims from squatter colonies which Armizan said were known to house many illegal immigrants.
He also cited the move to lift the ban on pump boats in the east coast, which he said would ease the entry of illegal immigrants into Sabah.
“This has also been linked with the modus operandi in kidnappings,” he added.
Armizan challenged Liew to use his position as a senior minister to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission of Inquiry which had proven the systemic issuance of citizenship to illegal immigrants.
He said this was all the more pressing as the report confirmed it had happened during Mahathir’s previous tenure as prime minister.
He also urged Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman to investigate claims that certain quarters were involved in organising programmes on citizenship application or other forms of identification.
“If then, the opposition accused the Barisan Nasional government of not doing anything, it is time for the new government to take steps to resolve the issues that have long been delayed in Sabah,” he said.