Be more open about granting citizenship, Sabah urged

Sabah PPBM member Armizan Ali suggested that citizenship applications be put on public display. (Facebook pic)

KOTA KINABALU: A member of Sabah PPBM has urged the state government to be more open about the citizenship process and to be fair to Sabahans who are concerned about the government’s enthusiasm in legalising illegal immigrants and giving documents to stateless peoples in the state.

Speaking to FMT today, Armizan Ali said Sabahans were still traumatised by past events which had led to an influx of new citizens and which had distorted the state’s demography in only a few years.

“It is unfair to say that the issue is being politicised. You cannot say, ‘don’t politicise’ because the fact is, it is political. Can we all agree that there is a genuine fear that history will repeat itself?” he said.

“Besides, some people think this is only the concern of the Kadazandusun people. But that is not right. This is the concern of all Sabahans, regardless of race and religion.

Armizan suggested that the laws on citizenship and other documents should be amended to make the granting of citizenship more transparent and inclusive.

“For example, we can do what the Election Commission does, display the names of applicants for a period of time so that the people can give their feedback,” he said.

Armizan said although the granting of citizenship is the privilege given to the government of the day, the people should be given the space and opportunity to get involved in the process to ensure the information of applicants are correct.

He pointed out that during the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah, it was revealed that there had been abuses in processing citizenship applications.

There were cases where applicants had been granted citizenship despite not being permanent residents, and even having given false information about the length of time they had been in Sabah.

Earlier this week, Sabah PPBM head Hajiji Mohd Noor had said that the people are concerned about the state government’s approaches and suggestions to address the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah.

The state government has proposed to carry out ‘regularisation’ programme to settle illegal workers problems and in case of another influx of refugees from the Southern Philippines, to provide these people a place to stay on one of the border islands which the government will equip with proper facilities.

For the past several months, Sabahans have been posting photos and stories about foreigners boasting they have received MyKad or MyPR and there were also photos of foreigners flocking to the offices of commissioners of oath to verify their documents, purportedly to apply for citizenships.