Thursday, June 26, 2008


Anifah says Special Task Force on Illegal Immigrants is unconstitutional


Kimanis Member of Parliament Datuk Anifah Aman said the Federal Government’s proposal to set up a Special Task Force on Illegal Immigrants in the State is unconstitutional. “The actual powers on Immigration matters lies with the State Government,” he was quoted as saying by an online news portal. Citing Article 161E(4) of the Federal Constitution, Anifah said immigration matters in Sabah and Sarawak lies with the State authorities, the Chief Minister, to regulate and control. He said the proper way to handle the illegal immigrants’ issue is to set up a high-profile Task Force headed by the Chief Minister while Deputy Prime Minister may play the patron role. “This would be consistent with Article 161E(4) of the Federal Constitution,” he said. Anifah also dismissed other proposals such as a Royal Commission or even a Parliamentary Select Committee as unconstitutional and inappropriate. He said a Special Panel headed by Sabah Chief Minister, with participation from Federal Ministers, is the only constitutional step towards solving the State’s long- standing illegal immigrants’ problem. As such, he said, the Federal Government’s move to set up a high-level Task Force headed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, as announced by the Prime Minister recently as part of a package designed to appease Sabahans, went against the Federal Constitution. Anifah, the powerful Umno MP seen as a key player in the battle for support of East Malaysian legislators, was backing Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) sentiments in relation to Sabahans’ unhappiness with the BN Federal Government, but stopped short of backing SAPP’s decision to support a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister. He suggested the Home Affairs Minister also sit on the Special Panel to advise on the findings and recommendations. Anifah said the high number of illegal immigrants in the State is a long-standing issue which Sabahans are unhappy with and expect help from the Federal Government to resolve the situation. In 2002, the Federal Government setup a Cabinet Committee to tackle the problem, but Sabahans said they had seen very little results on the ground, and have widespread concerns that illegal immigrants would soon outnumber citizens in the State. In view of the fact that the illegal immigrants’ issue falls under the ambit of Article 161E(4) of the Constitution, it would also be inappropriate for a Parliamentary Select Committee to study the issue. Anifah, who rejected an appointment as a Federal Deputy Minister after the March 8 general election, had positioned himself to champion the interests of Sabah and Sarawak in recent months. He has so far refused to chastise SAPP, a BN Component Party, except to say he did not support any no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister. - Bernama