PBS fears ulterior motive behind gazetting of Sepangar squatter settlements

Johnny Mositun

KOTA KINABALU : Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) says Sabahans should be wary of any plan to gazette squatter l settlements within the Sepangar Constituency as Village Settlements .

This is because the settlements are known to harbor thousands of foreigners including illegal immigrants, many of whom are known to have acquired Malaysian citizenship documents through dubious means.

Sepangar MP and Deputy Federal Minister of Defence, Datuk Azis Jamman had revealed yesterday that KK City Hall had identified and was in the process of gazetting 30 squatter settlements in his Parliamentary Constituency as Village Reserves.

The Constituency includes Gaya Island just off Kota Kinabalu which is inhabited by thousands of foreigners who grossly outnumber locals.

PBS Vice-President and a former Deputy Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly, Datuk Johnny Mositun, said he was justifiably apprehensive about the process, especially the secrecy surrounding it and the sudden announcement by the Deputy Federal Minister.

“ Why was there no prior announcement by City Hall about this plan? And I don’t know if it was even discussed in full by the the State Cabinet. The matter had also never been mentioned in the State Assembly. Isn’t it only proper for City Hall to be open and transparent with citizens about such a major program affecting them directly?” Mositun wanted to know.

Mositun said Sabahans were becoming increasingly worried about the arbitrariness and secrecy behind recent actions dealing with land and foreigners in Sabah.

“ Usually the people are not told about anything until the matter is at an advanced stage. It was the same with the plan to provide the Temporary Stay Pass to 600,000 foreigners, the construction of the Papar Dam, the revival of TAED, and now this gazetting of squatter settlements. Everything is planned and done in secrecy and the people are only informed after the fact. Why are Sabahans who voted for change being treated this way by this government? Do the people have no say in what we want and what we don’t want in the development and administration of our state?” Mositun wanted to know.

He said City Hall’s action to gazette 30 squatter settlements in Sepangar should be conducted transparently so that ineligible foreigners and those with dubious citizenship would not take advantage of the situation to ‘blend’ into the local population.

“ This is what every Sabahan fears. Already we see the difficulty of handling the huge number of foreigners in Sabah and proper documentation. The abuses are many, syndicates and disloyal, corrupted officials are everywhere. Even before this is overcome,, we are adding another dimension to the mess, that of land ownership through village gazettement. Can City Hall or the Government assure uis that foreigners with dubious citizenship will not use this exercise to acquire land?” Mositun again asked.

“PBS calls on the Chief Minister to come clean and be open about this issue. He must order City Hall to publicly display the quatter villagers slated for gezetting, their boundaries and population profiles of these villages,” Mositun said. -pr/BNN