‘Emotional’ Sabah immigrant probe

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 03 Dec 2014

KOTA KINABALU: It has been an emotionally draining two years for the members of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) set up to probe Sabah’s immigration situation.

Among others, they were moved when they had a first-hand look at living conditions at settlements for migrants and the state of affairs at schools there.

Former Sabah Attorney-General Tan Sri Herman Luping, one of the five members of the panel, recalled visiting a school for migrant children at Pulau Gaya.

“The children there were learning to read and write in extremely uncomfortable conditions. Some were in class wearing just torn singlets.

“But they were eager to learn,” he said in an interview ahead of the release of the RCI report today.

Luping, 78, said he even saw a fellow RCI member leaving a school teary-eyed.

“It certainly was an eye-opening expe­rience for us. The concern was for the children. They didn’t ask to come into the world. But they are here, what should we do about them?

“They will eventually grow up and we don’t want to make enemies out of them,” Luping said.

The panel, headed by retired judge Tan Sri Steve Shim, also comprised former Universiti Sabah Malaysia (UMS) vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Kamaruzaman Ampon, former State Secretary Datuk K.Y. Mustafa and Malaysia Crime Prevention deputy chairman Datuk Henry Chin Poy Wu.

The findings of the commission, formed in 2012, were submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in July.

Luping, a lawyer with nearly 40 years of experience, said apart from listening to 211 witnesses over “countless hours” during the hearings, the RCI members also pored through thousands of pages of documents submitted to the commission.

Among those who submitted stacks of documents to the commission were Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, who was also a former Sabah chief minister.

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