Published on: Thursday, October 24, 2013
PBS President, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, said the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) must be both bold and overall when making recommendations to rid Sabah of illegal immigrants.
He assured that PBS would support the recommendations by the RCI and ensure the agencies concerned would take action on the proposals.
"Even though this would require us to take drastic action, we must be prepared to do anything to resolve the illegal immigrant issue in Sabah," he said.
He said the illegals issue would not only damage the sovereignty of Sabah and Malaysia but also induce the people to not support the Barisan Nasional (BN) if they felt their interests has been ignored while the illegals are allowed to do as they please in Sabah.
"Therefore, I urge the Federal Government to take into consideration the recommendations by the Royal Commission and use its political will to take firm, immediate and effective action including enforcement of the law," he said.
The illegals issue, he said, is deep rooted and not easy to settle through public debates and efforts by certain parties only.
Everyone, including the PBS, he said, has given their views and contribution in the process to resolve the problem.
Personally, he said, he agreed and is of the view that the matter could only be settled with the cooperation of everyone at the discussion table.
The RCI, Pairin said, was stopped for a while in February this year following the intrusion of armed Sulu terrorists in Lahad Datu, who called themselves the army of the Sultan Sulu.
He said the incident showed that the fears of Sabahans all this while that their safety could be threatened by the presence of illegal immigrants is valid.
"This is because it is believed the intruders had been assisted by the illegal immigrants.
"This also showed how important it is for us to resolve the problem (once and for all) in Sabah now," he said.
The intrusion also, he said, indicated how important it is that security in Sabah is enhanced so that the people and sovereignty of the nation is protected from elements that are keen on take over Sabah.
Pairin, who is also Deputy Chief Minister cum Infrastructure Development Minister, said the people of Sabah always feared that the illegals would one day take over Sabah.
But the people, he said, are assured by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the latter's visit to Sabah in April that "Éno one from within or outside of the nation would be allowed to undermine security in Malaysia".
He said the formation of the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esszone) and Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) was a rapid and precise reaction from the government to handle similar situations from repeating.
However, the progress of the Esszone and Esscom until now has been quite slow.
"Earlier, we were made to understand that the Esszone defence would be bolstered with the deployment of security battalions (along the 1,700km coastal areas from Kudat to Semporna, including 480 islands)," he said.
He said this include security infrastructure such as upgrading of police and outpost stations, increasing the number of security members and defence equipment.
He said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, raised this last month, after apparently being unhappy with the present structure, coordination and planning to enable the Esszone and Esscom be fully mobilised.
Pairin urged the Government to speed up the Esscom and Esszone operations so as to enhance the people's confidence on security in Sabah.
"The government also must explain certain questions regarding detailed information on precise Esszone locations and when it would be fully operational," he said.
On plans to increase the number of security personnel, he said, youths from Sabah and Sarawak should be given the opportunity.
"This is a valid proposal because security members from Sabah and Sarawak are known for their bravery, calibre and fighting spirit," he said, adding that when there are appointments and rank promotions, they too should be considered for it.
Similarly, local Sabah contractors, he said, ought to be given the opportunity to implement development projects involving the setting up of the Esszone.