Thursday, December 18, 2014

Naturalised aliens – after Sabah, is Sarawak next?

18/12/2014 - 09:30     

Jimmy Adit

OUTSPOKEN: Sarawak should better take note that the one very important lesson to be learned from Sabah’s “Project IC” is that those foreigners who have been given citizenship will live and die in Sabah like any natural Sabahan. 

These foreigners will continue to determine the political directions of the Land below the Wind according to the dictate of those who granted them their citizenship.

And because these foreigners give their masters unquestionable loyalty, their socio-economic wellbeing is being taken care of in the way any master takes care of the general wellbeing of a loyal subject.

Today, natural Sabahans have awakened to the stark reality that after years of being too trusting, allowing others to run their lives and decide their political future for them, they are fast losing their homeland. Natural Sabahans are being edged out economically, politically and socially.

In their midst are 1.7 million foreigners, consisting of 600,000 new Bumiputera citizens holding blue ICs issued by NRD, 750,000 with fake ICs or no documents, and a further 400,000 holding immigration document IMM13.

These frightening statistics are contained in a report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry set up on Aug 1, 2012 to investigate problems related to illegal immigration in Sabah.

Former Dewan Rakyat senator and state assemblyman Chong Eng Leong alleged in 2012 that 200,000 of these foreigners were on Sabah electoral roll!

In his book called “Agenda Borneo”, a State Reform Party (STAR) member Nestor Joannes says Project IC or Project M (for then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the man said to be behind the neutralisation of Sabahans programme) saw a 302 per cent rise in Sabah’s population between the 1970s and 2000. In comparison, Sarawak, which had more people in the 1970s than Sabah, only saw a 106 per cent rise in its population.

“To secure Umno’s grip on Sabah, they used foreigners who had been given ICs by the federal government. (These foreigners) then became Umno supporters,” Nestor writes.

If Sarawak is not careful, or if it fails to learn from the Sabah experience, it could be the next target of a not-quite dissimilar neutralisation programme. The state’s more than a million hectares of oil palm plantations are fertile ground that makes for a perfect excuse to bring in those foreigners. 

In Sabah, the foreigners started in the oil palm plantations and acacia estates. It is highly probable that this was what played in the mind of Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot when he warned against taking lightly the influx of foreign workers, hardly a week after he announced that the government had approved bringing in 12,000 Bangladeshis for oil palm plantations in Sarawak.

Party Rakyat Sarawak president Tan Sri Dr James Masing and opposition legislator See Chee How were among several state leaders who voiced similar concerns while Sarawakians at large lambasted Umno for plotting another Project IC, and this time against Sarawak.

Their suspicion of an Umno plot was further ignited when an Umno delegate demanded that the human resource minister post be “given back” to an Umno man. 

“Perhaps the time has come for the labour ministerial job to be ‘given back’ to Umno so that the Malay agenda can be more clearly championed by the ministry,” said Datuk Shaiful Hazizy Zainol Abidin when debating Umno president Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s policy speech at the recent Umno General Assembly.

Sarawakians are asking: Does Shaiful Hazizy feel that Umno will not have a free hand in bringing foreigners into Sarawak’s plantations for as long as Riot, a Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) MP, remains the human resource minister? Will not the Malay agenda he was talking about involve issuing ICs to the foreigners so that they can get into Sarawak’s electoral roll?

It does look like Sarawak’s Achilles’ heel today is its more than a million hectares of oil palm plantations. 

The state’s leaders are well-advised to stop the federal government’s plan to bring in 12,000 Bangladeshi workers for plantation companies pending full consultation with the state government on the state’s need for foreign labourers, on its labour policy and on its security.

In fact, Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem must look at the plantations closely and take stock of the problem of illegal foreign workers, which if let to fester could force Sarawak to go the Sabah way.

We have seen how Sabah’s Project IC started with mass immigration and then followed by the naturalisation of migrants in the 1970s. 

By the time allegations of its existence surfaced in the 1990s, there was already a sharp increase of "Malays", as well as the large number of "Other Bumiputeras". 

There was also the significant drop in the percentage of the non-Muslim population namely, Kadazandusuns, Muruts, and Chinese. 

This could very well be the Malay agenda referred to by the Umno delegate, who might not be aware that Sarawak never had any specific agenda for any race, whether Malay, Chinese or Dayaks. 

The project, according to the RCI, involved certain political parties as well as various government agencies including the Election Commission of Malaysia, the National Registration Department and the Immigration Department. 

The RCI’s recently released report absolved the government of ever creating Project IC, instead blaming corrupt officials and syndicates of creating the problem.

Other than that, nothing is solved. The naturalised foreigners are here to stay because that is one sure way the powers that be remain in control. 

JIMMY ADIT is a by-product of journalism’s school of hard knocks. A has-been politikus, today he relishes life in the fringes of politics. 

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