Only Royal Commission can solve illegals issue: Sabah
Political leaders from the Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties in the State are still pushing for the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the transient migrants despite the announcement by the Prime Minister on Saturday to set up a high- powered Cabinet Committee to address the perennial illegal problems in Sabah. They are of the opinion that only a Royal Commission of Inquiry will be able to address the illegal immigrants issue. Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup questioned the effectiveness of the Cabinet Committee as it does not have any legal powers. “The announcement of the high- powered Cabinet Committee by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is something that the people of Sabah must be happy about,” he said in a teleconversation yesterday. “The effectiveness of the Cabinet Committee is highly doubtful because a committee formed in this manner has no legal powers to compel witnesses to come forward to give statements. It also cannot prosecute a person who tells lies,” Kurup who is also the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) President, said. Kurup, who is also the Pensiangan Member of Parliament, stressed that the formation of such a committee will only add on to Sabahans’ perception that it is only an eyewash (to address the illegal immigrants problem). According to him, a committee with legal powers is needed to address the enormous problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah. “The (illegal immigrants) problem is a real security threat and therefore nothing is better than to form a Royal Commission of Inquiry. “I would like to ask, based on the reasons I have given just now, what is actually the problem (faced) in setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry? The illegal immigrants problem in Sabah warrants the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry,” he said. Kurup was commenting on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s announcement of the setting up of a high- powered Cabinet Committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to discuss and solve the illegal immigrants problem in Sabah. The committee comprising several Sabah leaders would seek solutions to the problem, particularly foreigners holding the ‘IMM13’ document in lieu of passport issued by the Immigration Department to Filipino refugees which permits them to stay in Sabah, Abdullah told reporters after meeting State Government leaders and senior Government officials here on Saturday. United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organization (UPKO) Secretary General Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau when asked to comment on the same issue, said Abdullah did not give any details as to the formation of the committee. “What is clear is that it is a Cabinet Committee. What we want to ask further is to make sure that all Sabahan Ministers and Deputy Ministers in the Federal Cabinet and BN component parties in Sabah be appointed to the committee. “If possible representatives from BN component parties who are not represented in the Federal Cabinet like SAPP be appointed to the committee,” he said, adding that it is Upko’s hope to see at the end of the day, the committee will recommend to the Cabinet the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the illegal immigrants problems in Sabah. The RCI, he pointed out, will look into more specific matters concerning the problem such as the ‘Projek IC’ as the illegal immigrants problem in Sabah involves not only the ‘Projek IC’ but also IMM13, settlements and man other matters which the high-powered Cabinet Committee may not know how to resolve. “This is (the formation of the Royal Commission of Inquiry) the only way to gain the credibility of the people,” he stressed. Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Secretary General Datuk Radin Malleh when contacted, pointed out the existence of a committee headed by Najib to address the illegal immigrants problem. “The committee headed by Najib has been there for quite some time. What is required is to double or triple enforcement so as to contain the illegal immigrants already in the State and to prevent new ones from coming in,” he said. The Party’s Information Chief, Johnny Mositun, pointed out the matter was nothing new as PBS has, since its inception, been pushing for a resolution to the problem. “PBS is happy now that the Government is seriously taking action to address this. Of course there are quarters claiming that this (setting up of a high-powered Cabinet Committee) is not wise because they want the Royal Commission of Inquiry. “To me whatever it is that the Government decides, maybe that is the best solution to solve the problem,” he said. “For PBS that is the most sincere mechanism maybe possible to solve the problem because what we want is the result. Of course all suggestions from all quarters to address the PTI problem are taken into consideration but the bottom line is-we want the problem to be solved,” he said. PBS has insisted on the formation of a Cabinet Committee on illegal immigrants if the suggestion by Sabah BN for a Commission of Inquiry could not be acceded to at the moment. “In any case the illegal immigrants problem is well understood and proven and therefore beyond inquiry,” he said, adding that it is time for speedy action to solve the problem. “Many of the suggestions came from PBS submissions and followed up by Party Representatives in the Federal Government. We thank the Prime Minister for kindly responding to our requests and proposal,” he said.