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Published: Sunday January 20, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday April 22, 2013 MYT 3:56:03 PM

Sabah a sanctuary for the people of Bangsamoro

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Government has done more for the displaced people in the former conflict zone of Southern Philippines than just brokering a peace agreement.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front chairman Murad Ebrahim (pic) said the Malaysian Government as well as its people contributed much by opening their doors to the Bangsamoro people in Sabah when they had to flee from their homes because of the conflict since the 1970s.

“At that time, there was no peace and order, and the economy was in tatters.

“Sabah was near and I suppose the Bangsamoro found it better to seek opportunities there.

“We are thankful for that because at the time there was no way for us to help our own people,” he said after presenting a paper at the Nusantara Seminar titled “Islam in South-East Asia: Challenges and Hopes” here yesterday.

At the same time, he said he was appreciative of the Government for allowing qualified Bangsamoro people to apply for citizenship and identity cards after having stayed in the country for decades.

The ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry heard a testimony by a former Moro National Liberation Front leader who slipped into Sandakan in 1975 and has since become a permanent resident.

However, Murad said since the restoration of peace in the region, the doors were now open for the Bangsamoro people to return and rebuild their homeland.

“Now many of them are well-off. If they choose to come back to the Bangsamoro area, they can help with development and investment in the Bangsamoro, like how we also welcome Malaysian investors.

“But we give them a choice. If they choose to stay in Malaysia, we won't have objections,” he said.

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Tags / Keywords: Nation, News, Government, Bangsamoro, Mindanao, Southern Philippines, Najib Tun Razak, Moro Islamic Liberation Front