(8 June 2001)

KOTA KINABALU: The City Hall has been urged to reconsider its decision to relocate thousands of squatters from Pulau Gaya to Telipok as planned.

Both Gaya MP Datuk Yong Teck Lee and Inanam Assemblyman Johnny Goh in a joint statement Thursday said local residents in Telipok are worried about the impending influx from the squatter colony.

"The people would like us to appeal to the authorities, in this case the Kota Kinabalu City Hall to reconsider the decision," he said.

Mayor Datuk Abdul Ghani Rashid said on June 5 that the estimated over 4,000 squatters in Pulau Gaya would be moved to Telipok once the preparation of the relocation site is completed.

City Hall estimated 60 percent of a total of over 7,000 people living in the Pulau Gaya squatter colony to be locals based on them possessing ICs.

He also said the estimated 700 illegal structures in Pulau Gaya would be demolished in one exercise, where foreigners who are employed would be referred to their employers for their housing needs, while illegal immigrants would be deported.

Yong and Goh revealed that the Barisan Nasional Co-ordinating Committee for Gaya, which has representatives from all the State BN component parties, had in its meeting in April adopted a resolution objecting to the move.

They said the resolution, along with three others concerning illegal immigrants and refugees adopted at the same meeting had been submitted to Chief Minister Datuk Chong Kah Kiat last month.

The joint statement stressed that Telipok is already "home" to a settlement for Filipino refugees and local residents have for years been forced to live with vandalism, petty crimes and other disturbances posed by these foreigners.

The settlement located at Kampung Boronoun was established by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in the 1970s for the Filipinos escaping civil war in the Southern Philippines.

"The relocation of a large number of people in the settlement would put further pressure on the already inadequate water supply in the area. The exercise would not be fair to local Telipok residents from this and other aspects," they said.

"We hope the Chief Minister is able to intervene to protect the interest of the Telipok people".

Datuk Yong Teck Lee
Member of Parliament for P150 Gaya / State Assemblyman for N13 Likas






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