KOTA KINABALU: A local political leader has urged the federal government to amend laws that restrict illegal immigrants here from travelling to Peninsular Malaysia.
Henrynus Amin, leader of Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri, said Putrajaya must also carry part of the migrant burden borne by Sabahans.
It was only fair that West Malaysia take in 500,000 of the 600,000 migrants to whom the home ministry intends to provide the Sabah temporary pass (PSS) which allows them to live in the state.
Amin said there were 1.1 million illegal immigrants in Sabah, compared to Sabah’s population of 3.9 million. He said Sabah could only handle 100,000 migrants.
“I have talked to many of the migrants and they want to go to Peninsular Malaysia. They are not happy staying as squatters and on the islands all their lives,” he said.
“Putrajaya no longer needs to source labourers from Bangladesh or any other nations like Africa. There are so many of the migrants here, Putrajaya can have them,” he said at a public forum here on refugees and illegal immigrants.
Amin also said the chief ministers of Sabah and Sarawak held special immigration powers that could be used to stop the flow of migrants.
Recently, Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal suspended flights from China and barred Chinese nationals from entering the state to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
“By exercising such rights, the chief minister could also block the entry of illegal immigrants,” Amin said, and the authorities will be compelled to restrict the entry of passengers by air and sea.
He also proposed the re-activation of the Border Scouts comprising locals as members.
He said the large population of migrants here posed a threat to Sabah’s racial and political harmony, as well as security and sovereignty.
Former Petagas assemblyman James Ligunjang noted that the population of migrants is so big that they control many sectors in the state such as construction and plantations.
He said the result of the use of migrant workers for many years had resulted in many Sabahans lacking skills and abilities that even “they were unable to fix their own plumbing issues at home.”
A lawyer, Jeremiah Yee, said refugees who fled the unrest in the southern Philippines in the 70s were registered between 1976 and 1985 and issued the IMM13 pass.
To qualify, the migrants must declare their intention not to stay in Sabah permanently. From 1987 until 1992, he said there were 73,000 refugees in Sabah.