Thursday, August 15, 2013

Pairin confident state-fed govt cooperation can check influx of illegals - Sin Chew Jit Poh

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 15 (Bernama) -- Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan today expressed confidence that close cooperation between the federal and Sabah governments could help curb the influx of illegal foreign immigrants into the state.

He said such cooperation was important as the federal government had jurisdiction over the law enforcement agencies such as the police and Immigration Department which could prevent the entry of illegals, especially from the Philippines and Indonesia, through law enforcement.

Pairin, who was once Sabah chief minister, said the federal government also had the political power to ensure law enforcement to prevent the influx of illegals into Sabah.

"When I was chief minister, I tried my best to overcome this problem but I was unsuccessful without the close cooperation of the federal government.

"Right now the people of Sabah are worried about the presence of many illegals who threaten their economy and security," he said when testifying before the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) panel investigating the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah, here, today.

Pairin, who is the RCI's 199th witness, said the people in Sabah wanted safety and order ensured, and the issue of illegals, especially from the Philippines, be resolved fast.

In this regard, he said he had given to the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, some suggestions in writing for the federal government to implement to solve the problem of illegals.

He said realising the need to ensure the security of Sabahans had also driven the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) to rejoin the Barisan Nasional (BN). Pairin said closer cooperation between the federal and Sabah governments was seen under the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, especially following the intrusion in Lahad Datu by militants from the southern Philippines, resulting in the setting up of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) to boost security control in the area.

He said the establishment of ESSCOM had proven to curb the influx of illegal immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Pairin said diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Philippines also continued to be strengthened as it could help reduce the problem of illegals.

He said the Philippine government should be made to understand the issue of the claim on Sabah made by its citizens which had threatened the peace of the local residents and it should help Malaysia tackle the problem.

"The people of Sabah want development but at the same time, they want to leave in a climate of peace, security and order," he added.

A businessman and the 198th witness, Datu Akjan Datu Ali Muhammad suggested that the government carry out a regularisation process to document all matters pertaining to foreign immigrants in Sabah, based on the existing appropriate laws for better control.

He said the illegal immigrants working in Sabah should be given temporary documents so that their movements could be better monitored and controlled by the relevant authorities.

"The authorities can take stern action if they violate the laws and regulations of this state (Sabah)," he said.
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