Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak prepares to announce the terms of reference for the RCI tomorrow in Sabah to investigate the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was premier from 1981 until 2003, however said today he disagreed with Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s decision to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into Sabah’s illegal immigrant problem, pointing out that such a panel would bring no solutions and instead complicate matters.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
The unchecked influx of illegal immigrants in Sabah has been a longstanding problem in the BN-ruled state, and frequently blamed for the rise in social, economic and security problems suffered by the locals here.
According to replies provided in Parliament last year, Sabah’s populace numbered 651,304 in 1970 had grew to 929,299 a decade later. But in the two decades following 1980, the state’s population rose significantly by a staggering 1.5 million people, reaching 2,468,246 by 2000.
Media reports said that as of 2010, this number has grown further to 3.12 million, with foreigners making up a sizeable 27 per cent or 889,799 of the population.
Opposition leaders have long raged against the BN government for the population explosion in Sabah, alleging that illegally have been allowed into the east Malaysian state, and given MyKads and voting rights to help the ruling coalition cling to power.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad latest remarks come even as the prime minister prepares to announce the terms of reference for the RCI tomorrow in Sabah, in what is seen as a bid to head off the potential for a revolt in the east Malaysian state over the illegal immigrants issue, after two Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmakers quit recently citing the federal government’s lack of resolve in solving the surge in the number of foreigners in the state.
“The RCI will not deliver any result that will solve the problems. When there is an RCI it will bring about other matters,” the former prime minister told reporters today.
“I have been accused of apparently bringing them (illegal immigrants) in ... We don’t have to do that because they came on their own.
“Previously they have been coming and going. They are not alien to Sabah; they have been going back and forth between Sabah and the Philippines. Maybe they feel Sabah is safer and that is why they stay there,” said Dr Mahathir.