DAP and PKR defend Shafie’s plan to legalise stateless kids
Published on: Friday, March 15, 2019

Both Sabah DAP and PKR rose to the defence of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who announced plans to legalise kids where one parent is a Malaysian.

Luyang Assemblyman Phoong Jin Zhe (pic) told detractors to consider the plight of the stateless children in Sabah.

“Don’t punish these children because of the sins of their parents. If one of their parent is a Sabahan, especially the mother, then the child is a Sabahan. There are no two ways about it.

“If it is due to late registration, can’t the government help them? It’s not that they are ineligible. They were born in Sabah after all.

“If both parents are non-citizens, obviously they will be deported when caught. But the children will be left behind. What do we do with them? 

“Can the opposition give a solution instead of just criticising the government to gain political mileage?” he asked. 

He said it takes great courage to make unpopular decisions and believed it is time to take that bold step because the problem of stateless children in Sabah will not simply “vanish into thin air” .

Left unattended, he said the problem will simply be passed on to future generations while continuing to escalate into even more serious social problems and hence incurring even greater cost for the government.

“We fully support what the Chief Minister is doing. Our failure to act on this or our inaction can cost us highly in the future.

Phoong previously raised the issue of stateless children in Sabah when delivering his budget speech last year during the sitting of the State Legislative Assembly.

Stressing on the need for a young labour force to cater to industries in Sabah, he said it was therefore important to give the children access to education and health services, apart from it being a basic human right.

“This will curb the rise of social problems on a long-term basis and at the same time, create much-needed workforce in the future,” he said.

With good training and education for them, Phoong said he believes they will provide Sabah with a workforce that is young, knowledgeable and plentiful to help transform all economic sectors.

Sabah PKR vice chairman cum Assistant Minister of Finance Kenny Chua said action to address the perennial problem of stateless children in Sabah must be done now before the situation reaches a breaking point. 

He said previous administrations made weak attempts at solving the issue and their efforts never went beyond verbal assurances.

Chua said the Warisan-led State Government has resolved to take the bull by its horns and the decision was based on humanitarian grounds and not on some perceived ulterior motive.

“Sabah cannot just talk about the problem but do nothing. PBS talked so much about it and when they were in government, the problem was compounded with their political stand. What happened to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants that was led by Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan?

“Honestly what better option is there to resolve the problem? They have one parent who is Malaysian. They have never been out of Sabah and in some cases, never stepped out of their district or kampung.

“If we decide to deport them (children) then where to? This is a Sabah problem and we have to resolve it. 

“There is no sinister motive in our efforts. We want to solve it on humanitarian grounds,” he said.

Chua, who is also Inanam Assemblyman proposed gathering resources for the Mobile Court that has been reaching out to the far-flung corners of Sabah to hear cases of children with one parent a Malaysian but the other, a foreigner.

When the Mobile Court arrives in the kampungs, they can help the target groups by verifying the validity of the parents’ documents, on the spot, added Chua.


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