Monday, May 26, 2008

Pairin: Enough talk, time to act - NST

PENAMPANG: May 26, 2008

As the Barisan Nasional parties debate over how to deal with illegal immigrants in the state, Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan urged the government to take action.

The deputy chief minister yesterday said the large population of illegal immigrants had to and could be dealt with using existing means.

"The authorities are empowered to investigate, arrest and deport illegal immigrants according to the law and for now that is where the political will should be.

"This is where action and attention is needed and the request has been made by us long before any of these arguments surfaced," he said at the traditional food competition held in conjunction with the state's Pesta Kaamatan at the Hongkod Koisaan building.

He said the setting up of either a parliamentary committee, as proposed by Sabah BN backbenchers, or a commission, as proposed by the United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun and Murut Organisation (Upko), would take time.

"We have an existing force made up of various authorities such as the police and Immigration Department who can take action by going into the plantations, construction sites, squatter colonies and on the streets.

"The government should increase funds and manpower to these departments to effectively deal with the problem.

"It has been done successfully before," he said, referring to the 2002 integrated operation code named Ops Nyah II which targeted squatter colonies and their migrant residents.

Pairin said the state had detention camps to facilitate such operations.

"It's all about having strong political will.

"We cannot allow the problem of this large population of illegal immigrants to threaten our citizens and sovereignty. Action must be taken and now is the time."

Upko had said that the formation of a royal commission of inquiry on illegal immigrants would provide the platform for more effective action.

The Sabah BN Backbenchers Club, meanwhile, said it was in favour of a parliamentary select committee which included leaders from the state.

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