Stateless children problem must be tackled now, says Sabah assistant minister

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government's decision to resolve the issue of stateless children by legalising them is an approach that takes the “bull by its horns”, says Sabah PKR leader Kenny Chua.

He said the perennial problem of stateless children in Sabah must be tackled now before the

situation got out of control.

Chua, the state assistant Finance Minister, said previous Barisan Nasional administrations made weak attempts at resolving the issue, but their efforts never went beyond verbal assurances.

“The state government resolved to take the bull by the horns when it decided on a legalisation programme to help these stateless children for the sake of their future and that of Sabah,” he said in a statement on Friday (March 15).

“The decision was based on humanitarian grounds and not on some perceived ulterior motive,” he added.

“Sabah cannot just talk about the problem but do nothing. PBS talked so much about it and when they were in (Barisan Nasional) government, the problem was compounded by their political stand.

“What happened to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants that was led by Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan?,” he asked.

“Honestly, what better option is there to resolve the problem? They have one parent who is Malaysian. They have never been out of Sabah and, in some cases, have never stepped out of their district or kampung.

“If we decide to deport them (children), then where to? This is a Sabah problem, and we have to resolve it. There is no sinister motive in our efforts.

"We want to solve it on humanitarian grounds,” he said.

Following Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal’s announcement of plans to legalise stateless children with one local parent, opposition parties have voiced concerns and disagreement.