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Wind of Change

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Book blames peninsular politics for Sabah immigrant woes

Joe Fernandez

Aug 28

Book title: Lest We Forget Author : Dr Chong Eng Leong

This is a book which has long been in the writing considering that the writer, Dr Chong Eng Leong, filed an election petition back in 1999 alleging that there were phantom voters in the then Likas state constituency.

He had stood there as a PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah) candidate and lost. Dr Chong, a leading general surgeon at the Sabah Medical Centre in Kota Kinabalu, had always been an activist against illegal immigration.

The writer won a landmark judgment that prompted the Election Commission to have the Election Act amended to the effect that once the Electoral Rolls have been gazetted, they are not challengeable in any court of law.

Better late than never, Dr Chong has marshaled an impressive array of facts and figures in this documentation of an explosive issue, illegal immigration, for posterity. It is feared that there will be "a reverse takeover" of the state one day by foreigners i.e. if it is not already happening. Suhakam (Malaysian Human Rights Commissioner) vice chairman Simon Sipaun touches on this fear in his foreword to the book. "It (the situation) appears to be out of control as clearly indicated in this book by Dr Chong Eng Leong," writes Sipaun, a former Sabah state secretary, who sympathises with the plight of the illegal immigrants as well. "We cannot blame the illegals.

However, the public is questioning the authorities for allowing illegal immigrants to enter Sabah so easily.""They are also questioning why and how these foreigners could easily become citizens through the backdoor." Population expands because of illegals

The year 1970 is the base year in the book. In that year, statistics put Sabah's population at some 648, 693 and that of neighbouring Sarawak at 976,269. By the year 2000, Sabah's 2,603,485 population had overtaken Sarawak's 2,012, 616. Given the advent of modern medicines, in the absence of economic and social progress, demographers tell us that population doubles naturally every 25 years.

It's the effects of economic and social progress that act as a damper once they set in as in Singapore, for example. Sabah's figures clearly don't jell unlike Sarawak's. The extraordinary increase in Sabah can only be attributed to illegal immigrants being counted as Malaysians, according to the book.

The population figures for Sabah today are variously put between 3.5 million and 4.5 million - some of the population floating all the time - using rice consumption as a guideline. Sarawak meanwhile hovers around 2.5 million.Dr Chong leaves no stone unturned to point fingers at former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the chief architect of a covert state within a state project to pad the electoral rolls in 30 state seats in Sabah with the names of illegal immigrants mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia but also including the Indian subcontinent.

The idea was to tip the balance just enough to carry it off sufficiently to put Umno in the seat of power in Kota Kinabalu. The ruling Umno had correctly anticipated that time was running out for the half-century old party in Peninsular Malaysia. It needed to look elsewhere to shore up its continued hold on power and cast its eyes across the South China Sea. Sabah was one answer. Sarawak could be the next excuse if the Opposition Alliance, Pakatan Rakyat, upsets the apple cart there in forthcoming state elections just as PBS did earlier in 1985. Such accusations are nothing new and have been made before. But what is interesting is that Mahathir has never commented on these allegations one way or other.

Get control at whatever cost Mahathir's name was first mentioned in court in 1992 but it was not until the Likas petition that he became synonymous with the problem of illegal immigrants holding MyKads who were being listed in the electoral rolls.
There is an extraordinary wealth of information in the book complete with names, dates, places and eyewitness reports.The mindset at work is demonstrated in Page 37, where the Commissioner of Police tells one Hassnar Ebrahim, an ex-ISA (Internal Security Act) detainee, to commit murders.

"Federal Government wants political control over Sabah at any cost, even to the extent of murdering innocent people to have a reason to declare emergency rule," the CP is quoted as saying by Hassnar. Pictures of the 1986 demonstrations and riots show police escorting the demonstrators, swarms of foreigners, who had also thronged the court when there was a bid to stop the state election.

Mahathir's continued silence should tell us all something of the warped sense of destiny of Malaysia's 4th Prime Minister. He remains smug in the knowledge that no one can set the wheels in motion to go after him.

The Sabah of today and Malaysia which lurches from crisis to crisis is the result of the misguided policies of the Mahathir years which rewrote the rules on national security.

Basically, this is a tale of abuse of power and an exercise in acts of absolute power. In that sense, it's merely an extension of the Peninsular Malaysian political theatre where a series of events were set in motion viz. a Lord President tried by a kangaroo court of his peers and dismissed from the Judiciary, a Deputy Prime Minister incarcerated on circumstantial evidence and heresy; the Doctrine of the Separation of Powers, which provides for checks-and-balances, shunted aside by an Executive which was determined to reduce the other branches of government i.e. the Judiciary and the Legislature, to cringing subservience.

Sabah was child's play compared with Peninsular Malaysia which had formidable foes in the form of the Bar Council, the NGOs, PAS and DAP, among others.The amazing theme running through Lest We Forget is how easily the Federal Civil Service in Sabah caves in to the demands of their political masters and is willing to set aside internal systems of checks and balances to achieve a political goal.

That the Civil Service has been infiltrated by party politics over the last half century and heavily politicised is an open secret. Even so, it's surprising to discover the levels to which ordinary civil servants are willing to stoop to please their political masters. Subservience and lack of political will.

It is in this atmosphere of subservience and a cringing culture that Mahathir and others before him in Sabah have been able to make their identity card scams work. This message comes across clearly in this book which can only be considered a labour of love. The entire proceeds from the sale of the book would go to the Borneo Heritage Foundation.

In addition, the writer dug into his own pockets for the initial outlay for the printing costs.The book proposes various suggestions to overcome the menace of illegal immigration in Sabah. But the lack of political will remains a stumbling block.

At the heart of these proposals is the emphasis on the National Registration Department (NRD) in Sabah and the Immigration Department Sabah, among others, being headed by locals and not imports from Peninsular Malaysia. It is alleged that Peninsular Malaysians are mercenary and have no qualms about doing Sabah in if they are provided with the right mix of incentives.

Source : SAPP Blog

1 comment:

Paquin said...

Politics???ahaa... I'm not interested in talking about politics nowadays...
But I do hope all the politicians who had the 'power' can settle this problem immediately...