KOTA KINABALU: A youth leader from United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko) has called on the federal government to resolve the long-standing illegal immigrant issue in Sabah.
Upko Youth chief Felix Joseph Saang questioned why the Rohingya refugee issue seemed to draw more attention than the migrant issue in the state, a problem that he said “has gotten worse over the years”.
Saang said Upko Youth did not intend to touch on the Rohingya refugee issue for political gain but felt the illegal immigrant issue in Sabah should not be ignored.
He said the youth wing was intrigued by a movement started by Pertubuhan Pembela-Pembela Islam (Pembela) in the peninsula during the movement control period.
“This NGO wants the federal government to issue new identity cards as a measure to curb activities of syndicates selling MyKad, an issue that has increased the number of illegal immigrants.
“It is obvious that Sabah has suffered the most in this matter,” he said after chairing an Upko Youth event here today.
Saang said, in fact, Upko was one of the first political parties in Sabah to suggest that the current identity cards be recalled and new ones reissued.
“The Barisan Nasional government had once threatened Upko to leave the coalition due to our eagerness in resolving this issue.
“We hope the political parties in Sabah, who are now with the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government, would do more than that – to be braver, stricter and more vocal on this issue.”
Upko, on its part, will persist in raising this issue until it is resolved.
Saang said while they were confident the Sabah government was committed to this issue, the power to do anything about this was actually with the federal government.
“The National Registration Department (JPN) and the National Security Council (MKN) are both under the federal government. Identity cards can only be issued by JPN.
“The Sabah government has no authority over this issue and, therefore, it cannot issue identity cards or any other form of citizenship document,” he said.
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