KOTA KINABALU: Action to address the perennial problem of stateless children in Sabah must be done now before the situation reaches a breaking point and spirals out of control.
Previous administrations’ made weak attempts at solving the issue, but their efforts never went beyond verbal assurances, a senior PKR Sabah leader charged on Thursday.
Assistant Minister of Finance, Keny Chua, said the Sabah government today has resolved to take the bull by its horns when it decided on a legalisation programme to help these stateless children for the sake of their future and that of Sabah.
In a statement he said the decision was based on humanitarian grounds and not on some perceived ulterior motive.
“Sabah cannot just talk about the problem but do nothing. PBS talked so much about it and when they were in government, the problem was compounded with their political stand. What happened to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants that was led by Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan?
“Honestly what better option is there to resolve the problem? They have one parent who is Malaysian. They have never been out of Sabah and in some cases, never stepped out of their district or kampung.
“If we decide to deport them (children) then where to? This is a Sabah problem and we have to resolve it. There is no sinister motive in our efforts. We want to solve it on humanitarian grounds,” he said.
Chua, who is also PKR Assemblyman for Inanam pointed out that if the opposition had a solution they would have solved the problem a long time ago when they were in government.
Instead, the matter was exploited to whip up the people’s sentiments because there was no actual plan to settle the matter for the last three decades.
He strongly proposed gathering resources for the Mobile Court that has been reaching out to the far-flung corners of Sabah to hear cases of children with one parent a Malaysian but the other, a foreigner.
When the Mobile Court arrives in the kampungs, they can help the target groups by verifying the validity of the parents’ documents, on the spot.
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