Curb crime involving foreigners before situation explodes, warns Jeffrey

Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan warns that anger is escalating to a level where youths are willing to bring weapons to town to beat up immigrants.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan is worried over the recent spate of crimes involving foreigners, in particular illegal immigrants.

The Keningau MP said the authorities must act fast in countering the spike in crime.

Jeffrey said the police and the Immigration Department must flush out illegal immigrants, or PTIs (pendatang tanpa izin) as they are known here, from Sabah with “crisis-level” seriousness.

“The recent spate of crimes involving PTIs has caused considerable concern among locals, especially the younger generation.

“So much so that there have been rumours of groups wanting to retaliate by attacking immigrants in Ranau and Keningau,” he said in a statement today.

This, he said, was due to “highly provocative crimes” such as snatch thefts, robberies, car thefts, house break-ins, violent gang fights and the tragic killing of a Grab driver recently.

“For the first time, we have emotions and anger escalating to a level where youths are willing to bring weapons to town to beat up immigrants.

“The chief minister, being the chairman of the state security working committee, should raise the alarm among the state enforcement authorities,” he said.

The Tambunan assemblyman said things might spiral out of control if the authorities “do not pull up their socks and act with uncompromising decisiveness”.

He said there were many illegal immigrants in Sabah due either to the authorities intentionally neglecting the influx into the state since the 1970s or being “complicit in the whole scheme, which was later infamously known as Project IC”.

He claimed Sabahans harboured feelings of resentment due to Project IC, which was the systematic issuance of Malaysian identity cards to illegal immigrants, regarded by locals as an approach “to drastically get the indigenous people outnumbered”.

He said this suspected underhand agenda had for many decades been stoking the anger of locals.

“And the recent escalation of violent criminal incidents has pushed the emotions of law-abiding locals.

“Whatever it is, Sabahans no longer feel safe. And we all know our situation has reached the danger point. The relevant authorities must act before the locals feel cornered,” he said.

Jeffrey also urged the federal government and local authorities to activate the district and village security communities to monitor the presence and activities of illegal immigrants to protect local citizens.

“Illegal immigrants are known to congregate in certain areas and settlements, so the relevant authorities know where they are,” he said.

Recently, two people, including a Filipino, were charged with the murder of Grab driver Mohammad Hanafiee Jaffar while a local hawker was believed murdered by four teenage illegal immigrants in Tawau after he accused them of being snatch thieves.

In Ranau, a local was hurt after being caught in a brawl between a group of locals and foreigners. This threatened to boil over, but the situation has since cooled down.