Sabah cannot deal with illegals alone

The federal government must come up with a formula that would apply to the immigrants,including stateless persons, said former Suhakam commission Simon Sipaun.


A former Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) commissioner has suggested that the illegal immigrant problem plaguing Sabah be dealt with fairly among all the states in the country.

Testifying before the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah, Simon Sipaun said the issue of illegal immigrants had become a national problem and it was not fair for genuine Malaysians in Sabah to deal with it alone.

On the issuance of Malaysian identity cards (IC) to foreigners, he said the government must come up with a formula that would apply to the immigrants, including stateless persons.

“The government should have been proactive in the first place. There needs to be strong political will to tackle this longstanding issue,” he said.

He also said that recalling and reissuing ICs in Sabah was a good suggestion as it would demand every person to be screened to ensure he or she was a genuine citizen.

Asked by conducting officer Manoj Kurup if reconciliation would be an effective way to address the problem, Sipaun said he was not sure if it would be effective as the problem involved many races from different countries.

“We cannot emulate how South Africa and Timor Leste solved their problem because they were faced with two communities.

“I’m not sure how their success could work in Sabah,” he said.

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) vice-president Chua Soon Bui told the inquiry that the state government should be involved in the issuance of citizenship to applicants in Sabah.

She said although matters concerning citizenship were under the National Registration Department, it was best that the state government play a consultative role.

The inquiry led by former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Steve Shim Lip Kiong continues on July 23.