Refugee settlements threat to Sabah
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.