Refugee set­tle­ments threat to Sabah

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - HOME -

KOTA KINABALU: Inanam assem­bly­man Dr Roland Chia has crit­i­cised the state and fed­eral BN govern­ment lead­ers for not be­ing able to re­solve the il­le­gal im­mi­grant prob­lem in Sabah.

He claimed that for 15 years, both gov­ern­ments are still grap­pling with the is­sues of repa­tri­a­tion of refugees, and re­lo­ca­tion of no­to­ri­ous refugee set­tle­ments in Sabah.

Dr Chia, who is PKR Sepan­gar divi­sional chief, said this in a state­ment yes­ter­day when com­ment­ing on the ac­tion by the Sabah Po­lice Com­mis­sioner, Datuk Ab­dul Rashid Harun in de­ploy­ing more than 1,000 per­son­nel in­volv­ing Im­mi­gra­tion, Na­tional Reg­is­tra­tion Depart­ment and Armed Forces in com­menc­ing mas­sive crack­down op­er­a­tions in the no­to­ri­ous Filipino refugee set­tle­ment in Telipok over the week­end.

Nev­er­the­less, Dr Chia com­mended the ef­fort by the newly ap­pointed Sabah Po­lice Com­mis­sioner in tack­ling th­ese peren­nial chronic prob­lems head on.

Ac­cord­ing to him, af­ter the his­toric reg­u­lar­iza­tion, re­set­tle­ment and repa­tri­a­tion of il­le­gals by the then Sabah Chief Min­is­ter, Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat in 2001, 15 years have elapsed but still no con­crete, holis­tic ap­proach in deal­ing with no­to­ri­ous refugee set­tle­ments in Sabah.

“At least the then Chief Min­is­ter had the guts to bite the bul­let to deal head on with th­ese is­sues. Since his de­par­ture from of­fice, deal­ing with il­le­gal squat­ters has turned out to be hot air topic only by the political masters with­out proper res­o­lu­tion and dead­line.

“To add salt to in­jury, Chong’s suc­ces­sor ap­pears vague on how to re­set­tle il­le­gal squat­ters and had con­fessed that it was a long stand­ing prob­lem. On an­other front, the Fed­eral De­fence Min­is­ter has not been able to come out with a spe­cific so­lu­tion in tacking the se­cu­rity threat. Th­ese are both re­ported in the main­stream me­dia re­cently,” he lamented.

Dr Chia said it was an es­tab­lished fact even way back in 2001, that th­ese no­to­ri­ous refugee set­tle­ments are dens for crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties, drug ac­tiv­i­ties, so­cial prob­lems, and a place for hid­ing firearms.

Presently, th­ese set­tle­ments have been es­tab­lished as pos­ing a se­cu­rity threat to Saba­hans and Malaysians by re­port­edly hid­ing so-called ter­ror­ists and kid­nap for ran­som groups, he claimed.

“As the assem­bly­man for Inanam which com­prises Kolom­bong, Inanam, Meng­gatal and Telipok, the peo­ple in my con­stituency are un­happy and dis­gusted with the mush­room­ing refugee set­tle­ments in th­ese ar­eas. Th­ese peo­ple are also wan­der­ing around the city of Kota Kinabalu and be­yond, pos­ing threats to lo­cal fam­i­lies and the young.

“Not­with­stand­ing the fact that the Meng­gatal Tem­po­rary Im­mi­gra­tion De­ten­tion Cen­tre at Kg Si­nom­puru, Meng­gatal, which is the big­gest de­ten­tion cen­tre in Malaysia, hous­ing more than 10 per cent of the to­tal na­tion’s de­tainees, is also in the Inanam con­stituency.

“Malaysian tax­pay­ers’ money is used to fund th­ese de­tainees with food, shel­ter and clean wa­ter sup­ply, whereas the neigh­bour­ing vil­lages are still grap­pling with grav­ity wa­ter sup­ply from the moun­tains. What has hap­pened to the state of affairs in the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the state?” he asked.

Dr Chia added: “If Sarawak can well con­trol her bor­ders from il­le­gal im­mi­grants, I do not see why this can­not be done, un­less there is no political will to do so.

“Hence, I am propos­ing to the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments to set a dead­line to re­lo­cate th­ese mush­room­ing il­le­gal refugee set­tle­ments to is­lands close to their coun­tries of ori­gins as part of the so­lu­tion to re­solve the peren­nial se­cu­rity threats to Sabah.

“If they wish to work in Sabah, reg­u­larise them with work­ing per­mits and screen them be­fore they come back to Sabah for em­ploy­ment,” he said.

“If Aus­tralia has the Pa­cific So­lu­tions Treaty in solv­ing her il­le­gal im­mi­grants by set­ting up de­ten­tion cen­tres on is­lands out­side the coun­try , I do not see why this can­not be done in Sabah and Malaysia,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to him, the two cen­tres are the Manus Re­gional Pro­cess­ing Cen­tre, an im­mi­gra­tion de­ten­tion and off­shore asy­lum pro­cess­ing cen­tre lo­cated on Los Ne­gros Is­land in Manus Prov­ince, Pa­pua New Guinea and the Nauru Re­gional Pro­cess­ing Cen­tre lo­cated on the South Pa­cific is­land na­tion of Nauru.

Dr Chia

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