Joseph Pairin’s greatest act of patriotism is to put an immediate end to the 40-year “merry-go-rounds” on the Sabah illegal immigrants problem

Kudos to the PBS President, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan for being hailed as a “true Malaysian patriot” by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Sunday.

I do not know whether this implied that Joseph Pairin’s brother is not a “true Malaysian patriot”, but in keeping with his responsibility as a “true Malaysian patriot”, Joseph Pairin’s final and greatest responsibility is to end the 40-year “merry-go-rounds” to resolve the long-standing problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah which had mushroomed from the 140,000 figure which I cited in 1978 to some 1.5 million to 1.9 million today, completely changing the political demography and socio-economic circumstances in Sabah.

Pairin said his party had called for the formation of the RCI since it was established in 1985.

When I spoke in Parliament in March 1986 on the Fifth Malaysia Plan, where I devoted the bulk of my speech on Sabah and the problem of illegal refugees in the state, I estimated that there were about 300,000 Filipino illegal immigrants in Sabah.

I called on the Federal Government to take firm action to uphold the law, honour the Rukunegara, liberate Sabahans from the menace posed by the illegal immigrants by sending increased reinforcements of police and security forces, in particular marine police, to protect Sabahans from internal unrest and external threat fomented by the illegal immigrants.

I proposed in Parliament (in 1986) that the illegal immigrants should repatriated to their own country, warning that there was a conspiracy to illegally enfranchise the illegal immigrants and give them voting rights to change the political map of Sabah as it was an “open secret” that the illegal immigrants had been given blue identity cards and been registered on the electoral register.

I calculated at the time, i.e. 28 years ago in 1986, that out of 48 Sabah State Assembly seats, 21 were Kadazan majority seats, 8 Chinese majority seats and 19 Malay majority seats. If the illegal enfranchisement of illegal immigrants were allowed to take place unimpeded for another just three years, it was feared that the electoral complexion could be changed to 16 Kadazan majority seats, 2 Chinese majority seats, and 30 Malay/Filipino/Indonesian seats.

All these concerns which I had expressed in Parliament in 1986 had come to pass, with fundamental changes in the political demography and socio-economic circumstances in Sabah as a result of the illegal enfranchisement of illegal immigrants, which is the subject of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS).

Are we, at the end of 2014, at the end-stage of this 40-year betrayal of the native Sabahans or at the beginning of another sickening “merry-go-round” which will see no solution or conclusion to the problem, but instead see a greater influx of illegal immigrants following the announcement by the Prime Minister of a review committee into the report of the RCIIIS headed by Joseph Pairin?

Joseph Pairin’s greatest act of patriotism and even statesmanship is to put an immediate end to the 40-year “merry-go-rounds” on the Sabah illegal immigrants problem and not to be a party and give his blessing to another “merry-go-round” by heading a committee to review the RCIIIS Report

What is needed is not to further review, but to immediately implement, the recommendations of the RCIIIS.

Friday’s Cabinet meeting cannot be more critical and crucial for the resolution once-and-for all of the 40-year illegal immigrants problem in Sabah. It is in fact the D-Day whether there is going to be a solution or another “merry-go-round” procrastination for the problem.

Joseph Pairin, together with the three Sabah Ministers, as well as all Sabah MPs, should convince the Prime Minister and the Cabinet that Sabah does not need another “merry-go-round” to the 40-year problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah, as what was needed now is action to resolve the problem in the form of an Implementation Committee for the RCIIIS Report.

Is the Prime Minister and the Cabinet prepared to give Joseph Pairin the full powers to implement the RCIIIS Report recommendations, and in areas where it is not possible to implement the recommendations, to give the Implementation Committee two months to report to Parliament and to seek guidance?

It is no use for Joseph Pairin to be praised as a “truly Malaysian patriot” if the Prime Minister is not prepared to vest in the PBS President the full powers to implement, wherever possible, the recommendations of the RCIIIS report to resolve once-and-for all the 40-year problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah