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Open letter targeting PBS and STAR presidents meant to confuse people

KOTA KINABALU, June 18, 2020:

An open letter, addressed to the presidents of Parti Bersatu Sabah and Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku Rakyat Sabah (STAR), appears to be an attempt to confuse the people by twisting facts on the Federal Government's effort to solve the illegal immigrants problem in Sabah.

PBS Youth Chief Christopher Mandut  said the letter, targeting Sabah’s senior politicians Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili and Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, tantamount to belittling the seriousness of Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin to deal with Sabah’s illegal immigrants problem.

“The Minister (Hamzah) said the issue was meant to resolve the documentation problem of some 136,000 immigrants holding various documents in Sabah, namely the IMM13, Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Bancian to expedite their deportation.

“Through bilateral meetings with the authorities in their countries of origin, we will allow them to return to Malaysia, or Sabah in particular, to work, provided they have proper travel and identification documents issued by their country of origin,” Mandut explained.

He stressed that this approach was, by far, the best approach from the Federal Government to resolve the long standing issue concerning the large presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah, which is also in line with PBS’ core struggle since its inception in 1985.

“Unfortunately, it seems our support for the Home Ministry’s approach to take action on the matter with a view to solve the problem had been viewed out of context. In our recommendations, we never say all illegal immigrants to be issued the IMM13. He (Hamzah) was referring to existing IMM13 holders. Further, the document holders would be dealt with between the Malaysian and Philippines governments, then maybe referred to the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees). Meanwhile, they will also be deported gradually to their countries of origin,” he added.

Mandut also stressed that it was unfair to say Ongkili did not do anything, especially in his capacity as a four-term federal minister to raise these issues to the higher authorities.

“We have made recommendations and proposals to the Federal  Government to find ways to resolve the illegal immigrants issues in Sabah, including going down to the core by calling for the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the matter, through the Select Committee in Parliament which Ongkili chaired, with the former Prime Minister.

“It was just unfortunate that not much was done, but PBS has never wavered and will continue to do its best. You cannot expect the Party to arrest and send these people back home, because we are not the authorities. We can only make recommendations and proposals,” he said.

Mandut added that in fact, recently , PBS handed a memorandum to Hamzah listing the Party’s recommendations, which among others include a call for massive operations to flush out illegal immigrants and deport them to their home country.

For undocumented illegal immigrants, Mandut, who is also Ongkili's Political Secretary, said they should continue to be arrested and  deported, as stressed in PBS Memorandum submitted to Hamzah last Friday.

“Indeed, PBS will never stop giving proposals, and will continue pushing for action. But, we don't control the implementation arms, while some key people in the centre were not keen to go all out to deal with the problems, especially Sabah, because of their vested interests. Now, with Hamzah’s announcement, we have the chance to move forward aggressively.

“Let's be fair and give the new Home Minister a chance to prove his seriousness in wanting to solve the PTI problem once and for all,” he added. 

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