Saturday, June 9, 2012

Myanmar Rohingya Refugees In Malaysia

Tan Sri Harris Mohd Salleh
KOTA KINABALU: Former chief minister Tan Sri Harris Mohd Salleh is ready to appear before the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate problems related to illegal immigrants in Sabah.
“In order to relieve pressure from a number of people who are anxiously looking forward to my presence at the inquiry, I confirm that I will attend any time at any place to give evidence and information on the issue of illegals.
“There is no need to serve a subpoena to me. It is hoped that those people will lower their ‘blood pressure’ after reading this statement,” he said yesterday.
Harris said first of all, it must be emphasised and stressed that the power of granting citizenship and issuing identity card is vested with the federal government under the constitution and law, and that such power is now vested with the Ministry of Home Affairs.
“Under the constitution, the federal government can grant citizenship to anyone at anytime even after a few days of arrival, if it deems that person is of national interest. This is very clear and written in ‘black and white’.
“Thus, the most any person can do is to help making an application and make recommendation for those eligible to apply for either a permanent stay or citizenship,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Harris said secondly, it is the policy of the federal government since late sixties or early seventies that anybody who is eligible to become Malaysian citizen would be entertained and granted.
He said this is particularly true to the refugees from Indo-China and later from the Philippines.
According to him, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Malaysia’s first prime minister, had announced publicly and openly, the policy that the federal government would accept and take Muslim refugees from Myanmar and non Muslims could go to Australia, Europe or USA.
Tunku Abdul Rahman made this announcement when there were tens of thousands of Myanmar Rohingya refugees coming to Malaysia, and it is expected that most of them are now citizens, said Harris, citing an article published in The Borneo Post on June 3, 2012.
“Tunku Abdul Rahman said very clearly in no uncertain terms that those refugees who are Muslims can stay in Malaysia and would be granted citizenship.
“This policy is still valid today as the present Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak just a year ago signed an agreement with Australia on refugee swaps — Muslims to Malaysia and non-Muslims to Australia,” he said.
“Thus, over the years out of the few hundred thousand Philippine refugees in Sabah, some were issued with IMM13 to allow them to stay in Malaysia, and they must have been accorded citizenship, thus the number of population increase is a little bit higher than the normal.”
On the issue of the illegal workers in Sabah, Harris said it appears that there is no study being carried out as to why both employers and employees become illegal, knowing full well the punishments are severe, including whipping.
He contended that nobody seems to be interested to find out the truth into the bottom of this issue.
However, as pointed out from time to time there are about 200,000 illegal workers who come legally with passport.
But over time and because of poor treatment by contractors and the high government fees and policies which keep changing all the time, both employers and employees seem to prefer illegal practice.
“It must be noted here that being illegal workers, live is like hell; they cannot travel around as they like and they will be arrested.
“The flow of workers from Indonesia is not going to be forever. The Indonesians and Indonesian government are just ‘sakit hati’ and are waiting for the day when the Indonesian workers will work in their own country.
“This is happening in Hong Kong; 10 years ago, mainland people worked in Hong Kong, now the other way around,” said Harris, adding it is not understood as to why the establishment of RCI has become more and more easy these days.