PARTI Bersatu Sabah (PBS) must wake up to the realities of the migrant problems plaguing Sabah instead of throwing criticism around, a Warisan assemblyman said today.
Terrence Siambun, who is Warisan treasurer, said PBS leaders had done nothing to try to resolve migrant issues in the state when it was in power.
“I believe there were 50,000 to 100,000 illegals in Sabah during the time PBS was in the state government (as part of Barisan Nasional). And, the numbers kept climbing.
“This is the problem with just sitting and shouting about it. The problem festers and grows,” he said, adding that the Warisan-led government had started working on solving the issue with the introduction of the Temporary Sabah Pass (PSS) last weekend.
He was responding to PBS’ criticism on the move to allow 600,000 migrants to stay in the state with the new passes in lieu of the IMM13, Surat Burung-Burung and census certificate.
Siambun said the inaction of the previous government had resulted in the increase of stateless persons, including those whose nationalities could not be established as they had fully immersed themselves into Sabah society.
Earlier today, PBS information chief and Kiulu assemblyman Joniston Bangkuai said the new policy would only encourage migrants to “multiply” in the state, while PBS deputy president Radin Malleh had rejected the plan outright and urged for the migrants to be sent home.
Siambun added that because Warisan had, in its election manifesto, promised to resolve the migrant issue, it would take realistic and progressive action to address the problem.
“Warisan wants to act and solve it in the best interest of Sabah and our rakyat. I would like to ask Joniston if he knows who these people are.
“If the previous government had identified and kept track of them, then the process of understanding the complex situation would be easier,” he said.
The current state government is starting from scratch to understand the legal position of those who hold any of three different cards, and how best to deal with the nations involved in receiving their citizens back, he said. The state would look into the status of those who had at least one Malaysian parent, he added.
Earlier, another Sabah opposition leader, Star Sabah president Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, had also rejected the new policy, saying that the issuance of the PSS has lead to more questions about the way the government plans to resolve Sabah’s migrant problems.
Kitingan, who is also Sabah’s opposition chief, said there issue involved legal and constitutional matters, and there were issues, too, concerning how the pass would be issued.
“If the PSS is to resolve the problem of the three categories of ‘inland foreigners’, what about the illegal immigrants (PTIs)? And in what way will this resolve their foreign presence here?
“How many times can this PSS be renewed? Is it meant to be renewed indefinitely? Let it be made clear that addressing the problem of these ‘inland foreigners’ does not address longstanding PTI problems,” he said in Kota Kinabalu today.
On September 6, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had, on a working visit to Sabah, announced the PSS would be issued starting June 1 next year.