Palau community’s plight to be raised, says Hajiji

KOTA KINABALU: The State Security Council will discuss the recent issue involving the demolition of houses at the Tun Sakaran Marine Park of the Palau nomadic sea community, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor.

“We are very concerned about this matter. It is not that we don’t sympathise, we do because they are also humans but the areas where they have built the structures are within the Marine Park.

“The security forces have raised their concerns and have advised that these are security sensitive areas that could be used as transit points for cross-border crimes.

“We will discuss best way forward including relocation of the Palau people,” Hajiji, who is the State Security Council chairman said during his working visit to the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry at Wisma Tun Fuad Stephens yesterday.

The Palau community, who are stateless, have for generations moved between islands in the Sulu Sea and Sulawesi Sea which is part of Sabah’s east coast, southern Philippines and Indonesia.

The Palau community, who are broadly classified as Bajau Laut, have over the years settled on land while others continue their seafaring life with temporarily built homes on the waters around various islands off Semporna.

They are not citizens of Malaysia, the Philippines or Indonesia.

Earlier, the Chief Minister was briefed by the minister, Datuk Christina Liew, and the ministry’s permanent secretary Josie Lai who said that only one house was burnt during the demolition exercise last week and it was not done by the enforcement officers.

On Sabah My Second Home (SM2H), Hajiji said he would inform the Federal Tourism Ministry that Sabah would proceed with the programme.

“The state Cabinet has approved the programme for implementation, so we will proceed,” he said.

Hajiji also disclosed that a new state museum will be built in Kota Kinabalu following the state Cabinet’s endorsement.

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