KOTA KINABALU: The opposition Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has urged the people of Sandakan to reject the plan by the federal and Sabah governments to grant documentation to illegal immigrants and stateless children.
It said the people should also send a clear message to the state government to protest against the plan to provide an island as a temporary settlement for refugees.
SAPP president Yong Teck Lee said the party was surprised by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim’s disclosure that the government has a policy on undocumented residents in place, which its equates to issuing papers to illegal immigrants in Sabah.
He also recalled a statement by Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail hinting that stateless people will be recognised in the state.
“This will allow them to eventually become Malaysian citizens and gain first-class citizenship status in Sabah,” Yong said here today.
Yesterday, Anwar said after visiting the Ramadan bazaar in Sandakan that the policy to address the longstanding illegal immigrant issue was clear, adding that those who had been here for decades should be given proper papers.
Anwar said the process was taking some time to implement partly because it was related to security developments in the region.
On the plan to provide an island as a temporary settlement for refugees, Yong said it would become a hotbed for cross-border criminals and potential terrorists.
Chief Minister Shafie Apdal had previously said the state government was considering placing refugees in a temporary settlement on an island near the border in the event of an influx from neighbouring countries.
He said this would be done for humanitarian reasons, adding that while refugees were not considered illegal immigrants, they will not be sheltered on the mainland.
Yong also accused DAP leaders campaigning in the Sandakan by-election of being “strangely silent” on the issue of illegal immigrants.
He said the party leaders had spoken on a variety of issues at gatherings all over Sandakan but had not touched on the illegal immigrant problem in the state.