Sabah RCI: Illegal immigrants had guns and ammo, says former Sabah CM

Lee Shi-Ian, TMI

Crime rate dropped drastically in early 2000 when the state government went on the offensive to demolish illegal squatter colonies and deported them, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah was told today.

Former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat, who helmed the state from 2001 to 2003, said the problem of illegal immigrants was a well-known problem even before he took office and made it his priority to deport illegal immigrants, including those who had been issued identity cards illegally.

Getting rid of the squatter settlements in Tawau, Sandakan, Kota Kinabalu and Pulau Gaya was one of his notable achievements while in office, said Chong, the 172nd witness testifying before the five-men RCI panel led by former Sabah and Sarawak Chief Justice Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.

“When the authorities moved in to clear the settlements, we discovered a lot ammunition and weapons.

“Smuggling of firearms, ammunition and drug activities were among the crimes most commonly associated with these squatter settlements. Most of the firearms were smuggled in through the Philippines,” he told the inquiry.

The Sabah state government had received cooperation from The Philippines and Indonesian governments in the deportation exercise.

Chong said action had also been taken against immigrants who had Malaysian identity cards, saying some could not even speak the local languages in Sabah and did not protest when their cards were revoked.

“There were no protests when their identity cards were revoked and they were deported. This was because they knew the identity documents were obtained illegally.”

The former chief minister did not disclose the number of immigrants whose identity cards were revoked but said the the number was “a lot”.