They don’t want to take back their displaced citizens
KOTA KINABALU: The
Philippines government are playing coy over the repatriation of
its citizens who entered Sabah illegally.
Manila has no wish to accept
their return, claimed Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president
Datuk Yong Teck Lee, yesterday.
"From my various conversations
at various forums in the past, and my understanding of the
situation in the Southern Philippines, Manila would prefer their
people remain in Sabah," the former Chief Minister said.
Hence, he has cautioned the
Government not to take everything coming from the Philippines –
the influx of the illegal immigrants especially – at face value.
"We must begin to study their
motives and their strategies in resolving some of their internal
problems," he cautioned, while speaking to reporters after
making his Chinese New Year rounds, at the Sunday Gaya Street
He was responding to a host of
questions in regards to the perennial illegal immigrant issue,
which has plagued the State for more than three decades now.
Yong believed both the Federal
and State governments have shown their sincerity in wanting to
solve this issue, except that more financial resources and
manpower are needed for more effect.
"The new problem now is on the
Philippines side," Yong asserted. "I do not believe the
Philippines government on its own is sincere in wanting to
receive these illegals whom we want to send back.
"The latest administrative
requirement that they (illegals) must get a pass from the
Philippines embassy would in effect stop any acceptance of
deportees from Malaysia.
"And at the same time they
refuse to set up a consulate in Sabah because they say Sabah is
part of Philippines, and they cannot have a consulate in another
part of their own country.
When asked about the basis for
his claims, Yong revealed that during his tenure as the Chief
Minister, the Philippines government had on various occasions
requested the State government to retain its people.
"But I told them that our stand
is that we will keep the workers whom we believe can contribute
towards our economy and our economy needs.
"All the rest will have to go
back, and even those workers will be here on a short-term basis
and that was part of the regularisation exercise to give passes
to those workers that we need," he said.
Yong also added that the
Philippines should be more serious and have a strong political
solution to their conflict, to restore peace in Southern
Philippines and to have a ‘resettlement scheme’ for these
He said a proper resettlement
scheme is seriously needed in the Southern Philippines because a
lot of the early refugees who fled to Sabah during the
Philippines civil war in the early 1970s, have had their land
taken over by new comers in the South.
"Malaysia may have to take up
this issue with the Philippines government through the ASEAN
"I’m not sure whether the
Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) still wants to get
involved, but all these are relevant issues. This is part of the
bigger picture that I am talking about," he said.