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Stateless kids: Harris backs Shafie
Published on: Monday, March 18, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Tan Sri Harris Salleh (pic) urged the State Government to turn a deaf ear to protests by certain “minority” groups who are against legalising stateless kids in Sabah.

The former Chief Minister reiterated that the Malaysian Cabinet, with the participation of Sabah and Sarawak representatives, had given the approval for foreign and stateless children who were born in the country to apply for citizenship status.

He noted that the Cabinet decision was based on the provision under Article 15A of the Malaysian Constitution and was published in the media in 2007.

“(But) because of the silent protest by the minority, the authorities did not implement the Cabinet decision. Regrettably, the majority, being polite, did not follow up with the implementation,” he said in a statement.

Harris did not say who he meant by the “minority” and “majority”, except that 200 years ago, Sabah was ruled by the Sultan of Brunei and Sultan of Sulu.

He said the people then were nomads and were free to move between the Suluk areas and Indonesia.

“The British encouraged these movements in order to counter balance the migration of people from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan. These migrants helped with the initial economic development of Sabah. All were welcomed and this continued until the late 1970s,” he claimed.

Harris’ response comes in the wake of the ongoing issue about the Government’s proposal to register stateless children in Sabah which has drawn strong criticisms from various parties and NGOs in Sabah, especially the opposition, who suspected it to be part of a larger agenda to legalise foreigners, including as a future vote bank.

However, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has assured that the registration of the stateless children who have one Malaysian parent will be carried out in a transparent manner.

Harris said Shafie deserves to be supported so that he can implement what had been decided by the Federal Cabinet.

“It’s merely a matter of implementation. The legal decision had been made and there are no additional legal requirements,” he said.

Harris said Sabahans have nothing to be worried about accepting foreign and stateless children.

“After all, there are now over 1.5 million Malaysian citizens in Sabah. The number of these foreign and stateless children, including Muruts in Long Pasia, Pensiangan along the border with Kalimantan, Indonesia, should also be accorded citizenship. The number of these children may not even be more than 50,000 which is negligible compared to the over 1.5 million,” he said.

He also reiterated that legalising the children will contribute Sabah economically.

“It should be acknowledged that their parents have helped bring tremendous progress to Sabah. Legalising the children will propel their parents to work harder and generate more economic progress for Sabah.

“Without the Suluks and the Indonesians in the construction and plantation industries, Sabah would not have developed to what it is today. 

“The local people did not participate in these industries. Instead, more than 300,000 of them work in Malaya and Singapore,” he said, adding that it is unfortunate that Kadazans under 35 have even been banned from working in the island republic.



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