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Problem Of Illegals In ESSZone “Too Complex” To Resolve Immediately

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LAHAD DATU – The decades-old problem of the presence of illegal migrants in Sabah, especially in the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (ESSZone), is seen as “too complex” to be resolved immediately.

Maritime First Admiral M. Karunanithi said one to two years would not be enough to resolve the problem.

“It requires thorough planning and the participation of all parties concerned, in a holistic manner. The presence of a large number of illegals is a big threat to Sabah as some of them have been in cahoots with cross-border criminals, especially in kidnapping cases.

“Following the report of the Royal Commission on Inquiry on Illegals in Sabah, ESSCom (Eastern Sabah Security Command) has been tasked with steering the operations to hunt down illegals in the ESSZone, including to curb kidnapping.

“However, it’s not easy to get rid of the crime as long as there are enemies within…so the problem of illegals must be resolved jointly.”

Karunanithi said this at a dialogue session with the Lahad Datu fishing community at the District Office, here, Sunday.

Also present were Lahad Datu Fishermen’s Association chairman, Datu Eskin Ibrahim, ESSCom Intelligence assistant chief of staff, Supt Che Aris Bakar, and ESSCom Secretariat Division director, Newmond Tibin.

On smuggling, Karunanithi said the illegal activity was mainly committed by illegals while the people behind it were locals themselves, especially those involved in selling of cigarettes and subsidised diesel and gas.

“When the integrated operations were launched early this year, it was discovered that there were people, including traders, who had hired illegals for smuggling activities.

“We have only one law which applies to all, including the locals, smugglers and illegals.

“If the law prohibits you from smuggling and hiring undocumented foreign migrants or illegals, you should obey the law. Don’t be angry with ESSCom, let ESSCom do its job, and show your love for the country,” he said at the dialogue.

Karunanithi hoped that all quarters, including political party leaders would fully cooperate with ESSCom and not question the conducting of the integrated operations which were aimed at ridding Sabah of illegals and smuggling and kidnapping activities, especially in the ESSZone. – BERNAMA

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