KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah opposition leader has voiced concern over the illegal immigrant issue in the state, saying there is real anxiety over the way the state government is handling the matter.
Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku president Jeffrey Kitingan said Chief Minister Shafie Apdal had claimed that Sabah is not involved in the illegal immigrants issue.
“Yet, Warisan proposed a programme to legalise illegals in the state and place Filipino illegals on an island close to a border,” he said in a statement today.
Kitingan, who is Keningau MP and Tambunan assemblyman, also cited the spate of fires at squatter areas that occurred after Warisan came into power.
“Less than six months after the party came into power, there were eight fires at huge squatter colonies throughout Sabah with no reported casualties.
“Allegedly, JPN mobile trucks appeared at the sites as quickly as the fires broke out,” he said, referring to the National Registration Department.
“One cannot blame the people for suspecting that identity documents were granted to the victims of these fires.”
Kitingan said Shafie had passed the buck to the federal government by saying the state has no power to issue identification documents and that the jurisdiction for this lies solely with JPN and the Immigration Department.
Although acknowledging the truth of this, Kitingan said the state leadership is expected to voice the concerns of the people to the federal government, namely the home ministry.
“This concern over the illegal immigrants issue should be easier to relay and address, especially since the deputy home minister is Warisan Youth chief Azis Jamman.
“Either Warisan and its leaders are not aware of the people of Sabah’s concerns over the issue of illegal immigrants, or it has fallen on deaf ears in Putrajaya,” he said.
If the latter was true, Kitingan said, the federal government must intervene and address the issue immediately.
“The Pakatan Harapan government said the people want change, but the people of Sabah do not want change that undermines the sovereignty of the country and security of the state,” he said.