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Anzac war museum, move on overstayers discussed
Published on: Friday, July 01, 2022
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Jeffrey and Wong during the courtesy visit.
Kota Kinabalu: Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong is receptive to the idea of establishing a mechanism to resolve the plight of Sabahans overstaying Down Under.

It is no secret that many Sabahans who travel to Australia to work in the agriculture industry in search of better wages overstay their 90-day visa.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said Wong agreed that her Ministry will investigate the situation and take the necessary steps to assist these Sabahans.

“Unfortunately, Sabah is Malaysia’s poorest State. We have eight out of the 10 poorest districts in the federation. 

“These Sabahans working in Australia are circumstantial economic migrants. 

“At the same time, Australia needs workers in its vast agricultural industry,” he said, following a courtesy call from Wong, Thursday.

The two Ministers also talked about the possibility of establishing an Anzac war museum for tourism purposes, as well as strengthening bilateral economic cooperation between Australia and Sabah.

Jeffrey suggested that these Sabahans be given special considerations such as amnesty and repatriations with minimal or no fines imposed.

Wong was also briefed on the plight of Sabahans who wanted to study in Australia but found the tuition and living expenses prohibitively expensive.

She said the Australian Government welcomed international students and would look into the issues further, including scholarship opportunities for needy deserving Sabah students.

During the 45-minute courtesy call, Jeffrey, who is also State Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, discussed potential agricultural collaboration between Sabah and Australia.

“Wong encouraged my Ministry to write to her government with proposals, particularly on cattle and dairy farming.

“I told her I am looking forward to collaborating in the agriculture, fisheries and livestock sectors,” he said.

He said Wong welcomed the current Sabah Government’s initiative to conserve nature and she believes such efforts will have a positive impact on climate change, not only in Sabah and the surrounding region, but also in Australia.

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