Why choose Semporna for citizenship drive, asks former CM

Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee.

KOTA KINABALU: A former Sabah chief minister has questioned the move to hold a National Registration Department (JPN) citizenship drive in Semporna, saying the district is a “notorious” spot for illegals.

Speaking to FMT, Yong Teck Lee referred to a document dated August this year, detailing the four-day programme to issue birth certificates and MyKads in Semporna.

“Semporna is a hotspot for illegal landings,” he said. “Why did JPN choose Semporna for its mobile unit to issue citizenship documents?”

Semporna, on Sabah’s east coast, has a large population of non-citizens with a 2010 census estimating that at least a third of them are immigrants.

It is the parliamentary seat of Chief Minister Shafie Apdal, who is also the assemblyman of Senallang, a state seat within the Semporna parliamentary seat.

Yong urged government leaders to be transparent about the issue which he said was “extremely sensitive”.

He said the government’s decisions and its talk of gazetting illegal squatter colonies, allocating land and an island for illegals and other foreigners, and issuing temporary passes might attract more illegal immigrants to Sabah.

“This is a nightmarish situation for Sabah,” he added. “I hope the people, including those in the government, realise this dire situation and put a stop to all this nonsense.”