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KOTA KINABALU: Several Sabah leaders today hailed the setting up of a royal commission of inquiry to probe the issue of illegal immigrants in the state, with some describing it as a most welcome "Kaamatan" (harvest) festival gift.
The positive feedback for the setting up of the RCI, announced earlier today by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, came from Sabah Umno, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Organisation (UPKO) and Sabah MIC.
Sabah Umno deputy liaison chief Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak described the RCI as a precious Kaamatan gift for the people of Sabah and said it showed the government's seriousness in wanting to solve the perennial illegal immigrant problem once and for all.
"I believe every section of society in the state would be very happy with this announcement and I hope Sabahans will accept the decision with an open heart," he told Bernama.
Salleh, who is Sabah State Legislative Assembly Speaker, said he hoped that the establishment of the RCI would not be turned into a political issue or politicised by questioning matters pertaining to details such as the RCI terms of reference and so on.
"We should give time and ample opportunity for the RCI committee to carry out its investigations or duties," he said.
PBS deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili, hailing the RCI establishment as "much welcome news for the people of Sabah", said the people of the state had been eagerly waiting for the announcement.
"It is a fulfillment of a decade of requests, especially from us in Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS). The formal announcement confirms that the federal government is sincere in solving the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah.
"As a member of the (federal) administration and deputy president of PBS, I commend and salute the prime minister for his boldness in confronting the illegal immigration problem in Sabah and its associated problems - citizenship, security, socio-economic, health and political. This is yet another strategic component of the PM's national transformation agenda," he said.
BS secretary-general Datuk Henrynus Amin said he saw no reason why the people would not support the Barisan Nasional (BN) after this announcement by the prime minister.
UPKO secretary-general Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau said that in order to achieve the government objective of upholding the rule of law and the supremacy of the federal constitution, the members of the RCI must be people with calibre, having the kind of credentials that reflect integrity and credibility.
Also, he said, the RCI terms of reference must be comprehensive enough to cover investigation of burning issues and pertinent questions such as the extraordinary increase in the population of Sabah.
"On both points, the input by component parties of the Barisan Nasional must be seriously taken into account in the formulation of the RCI terms of reference and composition of the membership," he said.
Sabah MIC liaison chairman Datuk V. Jothi called on the people to rally behind the BN government and have confidence in the BN to find a lasting solution to the illegal immigrant problem.
"Although it is long overdue, it is better late than never. I'm sure the people of Sabah are happy," he said.
Jothi said the federal government's decision was in line with the aspirations of the 1Malaysia concept which prioritises the needs of the people. BERNAMA