(10 May 2001)

KOTA KINABALU: Former Chief Minster Datuk Yong Teck Lee said any schools found accepting children of illegal immigrants could be considered as harbouring illegal immigrants, a punishable offence.

"There is no reason for heads of schools to be taking in children whose parents do not have valid documents and, therefore, could be regarded as harbouring illegal immigrants," he told reporters while conducting a working visit to SK Mutiara, at Jalan Lintas here, on Wednesday.

He did not rule out the possibility of an inclusion of children of illegal immigrants in possession of fake documents.

It was also possible that both the school authorities as well as the Education Department failed to screen the background of the foreign parents before accepting their children, including checks with the National Registration Department (NRD), he said.

Yong was confident that the NRD would be prepared to assist in such investigation, in a similar fashion accorded to the Election Commission.

He recalled a recent statement by Chief Minister Datuk Chong Kah Kiat who said that the only way to resolve the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah was to deport them to their countries of origin.

Yong, who is Gaya MP and Likas Assemblyman, said the main issue here would be on illegal immigrants, including their children, being accorded the refugee status.

Although the children under this category could be allowed to study in local schools, priority should be accorded to local children, he added.

"As far as I know, our schools are getting overcrowded to an extent even our local children could not be admitted.

"In principle, the foreign children could only be considered where there are vacancies after all our local children have been accepted," he said.

According to Yong, it would be impossible for schools in the State to accept all the foreign children and refugees even if they are required to pay for education.

Yong earlier launched the school's website that could be accessed by parents wishing to know the academic performance and progress of their children.

He also visited the school's facilities, including a computer room, music room and resource centre, and commended the school for being advanced in various aspects, including information technology and co-curriculum.

Despite having been in operation for only two years, the school had the potential to be upgraded as a Grade A school and later a Smart school, he said.

Also present were SK Mutiara headmaster Raja Izah Akhmar, PTA chairman Haji Mohd Yusof Apdal and Education Department representatives.

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




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