KOTA KINABALU, 6 Oct 2008: Former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak has appealed to Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and the National Registration Department (NRD) director-general to come to Sabah to hold “special closed-session meetings” with those having genuine citizenship problems as soon as possible, to solve the problem once and for all and prevent the issue from being politicised.
He said several political parties, including the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), had joined the fray in expressing their dissatisfaction over the way the NRD in Sabah handled the matter, and the prolonged debate over the issue in the media might affect the image of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government.
“It seems that one by one, people are coming forward with clear-cut evidence pertaining to their citizenship problems where the status of local Sabahans is downgraded to that of permanent residents (PRs).
“This could be just the tip of the iceberg. Maybe more locals, especially those who are experiencing such problems, will do the same and this gives room to some people to take advantage of it for political mileage. That’s why we don’t want this to go on,” he told Bernama today.
Salleh was commenting on the latest disclosure by SAPP deputy president and Sepanggar member of parliament Datuk Eric Majimbun, who claimed that a MyKad holder from Kampung Pomotodon, Inanam, having Majimbun’s family name with a slightly different spelling (Majimbon), had turned out to be a Filipino surnamed Maguil. The Filipino man had admitted to having obtained the identity document a couple of years back.
Majimun was quoted on 5 Oct as saying that Maguil’s case was almost similiar to that of 78-year old Yong Lee Hua from Penampang, who lost her citizenship after losing her MyKad to a pickpocket in 2007, and the locally-born bumiputera was later given a PR status.
Surprised by the downgrading, the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut
Organisation (Upko) then threatened to review its position in the BN if the matter was not addressed.
Salleh said the federal government, particularly the home ministry, should view the matter seriously and take immediate action to address the problem.
“We don’t want anymore the standard answer ‘we will into look it’. Many Sabahans are dissatisfied with the state NRD in handling the issue, not to mention the problem of illegal immigrants or illegal immigrants who obtained the MyKad through dubious means,” he said.
According to statistics given by SAPP, in the 1970s, the Sabah population stood at 636,431 people. The number shot up by 285% to 2,449,389 in 2000. — Bernama