Govt to look into RCI on Sabah illegal immigrants, says DPM

SANDAKAN: The government will look into the recommendations of the 2012 Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah, says Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. 

“They had an RCI. So, we have to look into the results of that RCI, what they studied and how to solve the problems holistically,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

She said the issue of illegal Filipino migrants has been a long-standing problem in Sabah. 

“It’s not like if Pakatan Harapan takes over (the government), we won’t have this problem. We have faced this issue for many years," she said when met during a visit at a Pasar Besar in Sandakan town on Sunday (May 5).

The RCI  on illegal immigrants in Sabah was formed during the Barisan Nasional administration of Sabah in 2012, and it was chaired by former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Liong. 

Following the findings of the RCI report, Sabah Barisan set up a special committee headed by former Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to look into the findings and coordinate measures as suggested by the report. 

The complete report - which was published on December 2015 - revealed proof that the controversial Projek IC may have existed. 

However, it stated that no political parties were involved in the granting of citizenship to illegal immigrants, as it blamed corrupt officials over the matter. 

According to Dr Wan Azizah, the matter falls under the purview of the state government, adding it also led to the issue of undocumented children who could not have access to education. 

Dr Wan Azizah said she will discuss the matter with the Home Ministry, as the government cannot turn a blind eye to the issue of illegal migrants in Sabah. 

She also said that the government must find ways to integrate these stateless children to society as they have nowhere else to return to. 

“We have to look after them because of their future. They are not going anywhere. They need education and a source of livelihood. They need basic skills and training so that they can be more productive in our society," she said

Also present was Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew, who said the state government is beginning to address the issue with a policy to recognise stateless children as Sabahans if at least one of their parents is locally born. 

“Let us settle this first because some of the children are already grown up. It’s too late for them to go to school and they can’t because their status is not clear. 

“Once we are able to settle that, then we will be able to resolve the other part,” she added. 

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