Heavy security as 500 attend anti-Sabah pass protest despite bomb scare

The crowd at the Himpunan Solidariti Bantah PSS.

KIMANIS: Close to 500 people turned up at the “Himpunan Solidariti Bantah PSS” to protest against the implementation of the Temporary Sabah Pass (PSS) today amid heavy security after a bomb threat was made.

Protesters were seen sitting at coffeeshops in the old Membakut town as early as 7am as police set up a roadblock near Bongawan town, causing many protesters to be caught in a traffic crawl along the Papar-Bongawan main road.

The protesters wore black “Reject PSS” shirts and wrapped red cloths around their heads as a sign of protest against the plan by the federal government.

Among those caught in the traffic congestion was Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (Sabah Star) president Jeffrey Kitingan who only arrived at the venue over an hour after the event started at 9.30am.

The speakers present were organiser Jamain Sarudin who is also Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) youth chief, Sabah MCA Wanita Chief Pamela Yong, Sabah Star vice-president Ellron Angin, PBS information chief Joniston Bangkuai and former Kimanis MP Anifah Aman.

All the leaders in their speeches urged the Kimanis voters to deny Warisan a victory in the Kimanis by-election to drive home the message that they were against the PSS.

Former Sabah chief minister Yong Teck Lee said that there was no reason for anyone to fear a bomb threat as the police were present to safeguard security.

On the PSS, he said the government might have a hidden agenda as the plan to implement the identification papers came at the same time as the census year.

“The number given by the deputy home minister was over 100,000 (those who would get the PSS), the home minister (Muhyiddin Yassin) and Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal said there were 600,000. So which one is it?

“This has led me to believe that there must be a hidden agenda that we are not aware of,” he said.

PBS man Joniston reiterated his party’s stand against the PSS, citing it was not part of the Warisan-Pakatan Harapan election manifesto.

He also asked why the Immigration Department had not implemented the voluntary repatriation scheme Back For Good (B4G), similar to the one carried out in Peninsular Malaysia, instead of the PSS.

Jeffrey, meanwhile, warned of the risks of allowing migrants to continue staying in Sabah, adding that they would pose a direct threat to the Sabahans’ socio-economic situation.

“We don’t even know how many of them are here in Sabah. And there are no clear procedures and we don’t even know if the Immigration Department might register a terrorist like someone from the Isis or the Abu Sayaff,” he said.

It was during Jeffrey’s speech that a man was seen dressed in traditional attire with a machete tied around his waist.

The man was escorted out by the police about five minutes later.

Former foreign affairs minister Anifah Aman, who was the main speaker, said there were many negative issues caused by the migrants in Sabah.

For instance, the emergence of polio which had been eradicated in Malaysia for many years.

Anifah, who is the incumbent Kimanis MP, also hit out at Shafie, saying the presence of many races at the event showed that he was not a racist.

Instead, he accused Shafie of being a racist as the chief minister wanted to give the PSS to the migrants who posed a direct threat to the economy and social practice of the Sabahans.

He was halfway through his speech when the police barged in and informed the organisers that they had gone beyond the stipulated time in their permit.

The police team was led by Beaufort police chief Azmer Abdul Razak.

The crowd immediately dispersed after Anifah completed his speech around 11.15am.

Azmer said police were happy that the gathering had proceeded smoothly and peacefully.

When asked about the man with the machete, he said the person was being held for questioning.

However, he said the weapon was not real and was made out of wood.

“I was told that he was supposed to perform at this event. But we are still detaining him for questioning,” he said.