The much anticipated Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Sabah’s illegal immigrant issue has just been announced by Najib Tun Razak. This is good news for Sabah and certainly a historic moment. Finally this issue after so many years is being investigated and given utmost attention by the Federal Government who is actually responsible for the mess Sabah is in today.

With this announcement it is confirmed that Dr Mahathir and Najib Tun Razak are at loggerheads.

Mahathir’s politically provocative statement on the eve of Najib’s announcement of the RCI was to create tension within BN Sabah and sabotage the RCI. Now it is proven that Dr Mahathir was all along making systematic attempts to change the political demography of Sabah under his adminstration at the expense of the local indigenous population. Dr Mahathir’s use of history to justify free movement of foreigners into Sabah is seriously flawed, and by his own logic, he seemed to justify the Philippines’ claim on Sabah.

I nevertheless give credit to Musa Aman for working behind the scenes convincing all parties within UMNO Sabah to accept the RCI for the good of Sabah. Must congratulate the chief minister for his foresight to set up the Sabah BN committee on citizenship under the chairmanship of Pairin Kitingan which actually served as a catalyst in the formation of the RCI. It was really difficult for Musa as there were UMNO warlords within UMNO Sabah like Shafie Apdal with vested interest refusing the RCI and manipulating Putrajaya on the process.

Some time back some people have claimed that Sabah is replete with complex socio-politico problems because of the presence of millions of illegals and if not controlled in time then this wonderful creative race called Kadazan Dusun Murut (KDM) will disappear from the surface of the earth forever. I understand why some people could think to this extent. Are the problems that Sabah have witnessed, especially in recent times, myriad enough to exterminate this intelligent and creative tribe? I do think such enormous and myriad problems have taken place in Sabah and its serious.

A national population census in 2010 showed an exponential 390 per cent increase in Sabah’s population from 636,431 citizens in 1970 to 3,120,040 citizens in 2010 ― more than double the national population growth of just 164 per cent. Of the 3.12 million Sabahans today, reports have estimated that 27 per cent are foreigners.

Then look at this figure, in 1960, Sabah population comprised 32% Kadazan-Dusuns, 23% Chinese, 15.8% other Muslims, 13.1% Bajaus, 5.5% Indonesians, 4.9% Muruts, 1.6% Filipinos and 0.4% Malays. But in 2006, the state’s ethnic composition changed drastically, comprising 25% non-citizens, 17.76% Kadazan-Dusuns, 14.62% other Bumiputeras, 13.4% Bajaus, 11.48% Malays, 9.6% Chinese, 4.8% others and 3.3% Muruts.

It is true that socio-political conflicts due to the huge number of illegals in the state has been taking place in Sabah and this has produced some good results rather than bad ones. I guess in the absence of these problems Sabahans would have not become more intelligent and conscious about their rights. Thus, problems can not be looked at cynically all the time. Moreover we can not even imagine a society without problems. Only when the problems are out of hand and when the State exhausts all its energy in overcoming the problems at hand one can argue that problems are impediments to the development/progress of Sabah. Until this stage is reached problems are in fact indispensable engines for pushing Sabahans to move forward. I feel that so many activists, so many social organizations and intellectuals would have not appeared on the soils of Sabah had the illegals gaining Malaysian citizenship via backdoor not happened. It is also to be remembered that there will not be any society where every member fully conforms to the norms and established laws of the State. Having said so, it is also wrong on the part of the authorities if they shirk their responsibilities of solving problems that are being faced by the people.

Riding on the high sounding idea of ‘no absolute wrongs’ in the social life, people like Mahathir or groups responsible for allowing the illegals to swamp Sabah use their own peculiar discourses and through them they try to rationalize their actions even though these people know very well that such actions would hurt or affect the lives of the indigenous people of Sabah. Whatever be the context in which they situate their actions and justify their actions my strong contention is that no human actions should be at the expense of the ‘common good’ of Sabah.

Fortunately, the Musa government has been really capitalizing on the opportunities thrown by the various problems that inflict Sabah and trying to improve its performances and serve the people better each day that passes by. It knows well that there are in-built solutions in every problems and tries to ferret out the solutions tirelessly rather than wasting time and energy on playing blame or ‘passing the buck’ games. Datuk Lajim Okim and Datuk Bumburing are examples of leaders who are playing blame games.

Humans are emotional so are the many participating members of Musa Aman’s government. But despite of many practical difficulties the leadership of this government, in many occasions, had tackled many sensitive socio-political issues and problems satisfactorily.

We have seen that the leadership of this government has never jumped into any hasty or irresponsible decisions. It never allows itself to be swept away or carried away by the quixotic emotional outbursts of other non-state stakeholders, including Dr Mahathir Mohamad or even “Sultan Sulu” Akjan. Instead the government tries to find or has found out solutions which are based on legal-rational principles, and are acceptable to all the parties. It steadfastly sticks to the moral and legitimate principle of democratic governance believing that the government is not for gratifying particular groups at the cost of welfare of the indigenous people.

Some may fret and fume about the existing State of affairs and fire barrage of diatribes inexorably against the handling of the illegals, against the handling of certain socio-political problems arising from the huge number of illegals and even the way the development programmes are being undertaken. But my logical question is how many of them have seen any better government than the earlier three governments USNO, Berjaya and PBS, under the present leadership. I know that I may not be politically correct to say this but I am saying this without any political leanings to any parties.

At the development front I do not see any inadequacy in the policies and programmes being pursued by the government. So, let us learn to call a spade a spade and appreciate the hard work put in by this Musa government. I also do not find any inadequacy or serious shortcomings in the measures contemplated or taken up by the leadership to address many of the gnawing socio-political problems i.e. due to the presence of millions of illegals in the state.

It is important for us to remember that many of the socio-political problems we witness today due to the illegals in Sabah do not come into existence in a day. This means that we can not afford to have quick fix solutions. Rather we need to find out the lasting solutions. This fact, it seems, is very much known to the leadership of the Sabah government. Musa knows he is answerable to the people. And as we all know GE13 is just round the corner and in any democratic set up the people are sovereign and people can deny their elected leaders a chance to become their representatives again if they feel that he or she does not live up to their expectations. Apparently Musa Aman know these democratic processes and values quite well and have outperformed his predecessors in duties of serving the people of Sabah and the Natives specifically.

Here, I can not help eulogizing Musa Aman for his political acumen and statesmanship. Under his leadership and guidance the present government has succeeded in getting the RCI on Illegals and has also succeeded attracting unprecedented developmental activities and is, relentlessly, endeavouring to lift the State to the status of one of the most developed States in the country. Take my hats off to the Chief Minister of the State.

Like any other leader Musa Aman may also be fallible. But one may not be doing any justice on one’s part if he or she is hell bent on critiquing his shortfalls unmindful of or forgetting about all the invaluable services that he has rendered so far in spite of the various constraints/limitations that he confronts with while governing this complex multi-ethnic society with their divergent vested interests.

It can also be sensed that Musa is very much familiar with the concept of ‘micro power politics’. As this element is present in all spheres of politics. And to my observation and belief Musa is well aware of the fact that until and unless the differences that arise out of the power politics at the micro level i.e. among his elected colleagues of his own party UMNO or otherwise, are resolved first, no solutions could be found out to the problems at the macro level. He has dealt with most of the problems that exists at the governmental level successfully and is able to steer his last two coalition governments for two complete terms, 2004 and 2008.

10 years as Chief Minister, being a seasoned statesman rising above the petty politics he shepherds the transition of Sabah towards the pinnacle of development. His mind boggling personal charisma and aura reach far beyond the boundaries of the State. His many bold decisions against the odds and his ‘never-buckle-under pressure-tactics’ quality least bothering about such actions may make more political foes than friends endear himself to many Sabahans. He is a ‘cult figure’ in the hearts of many of his admirers in the state.

Musa Aman is well aware of the fact that in democracy there is no place for those power elites i.e. Yang Berhormats who try to monopolize the power and the state machineries to their own personal aggrandizement. He makes his colleagues realize that in democracy none of them could remain in power if they do not go in tandem with aspirations of the people. That is the one obvious reason why Musa Aman could win a thumping majority in the last general election in 2008 where he won 59 out of the 60 state seats.

Problems are bound to be there. Heroes are those extraordinary humans who fight not only the evils but also who always try to solve the problems or hardships that people face. And to me Chief Minister Musa Aman is a hero. The leadership of the present government had shown in earlier occasions that it believed in the ‘virtues of adversity”. It knows well that if it could not meet the adversities with responsible responses it shall perish. Therefore the leadership of the present government has, time and time again, shown the grit, sagacity, skills and other bold decisions as responses to deal with the situations or challenges which rear its ugly head just like phoenix rising from the ashes. In earlier occasions the government might have faced some difficulties as to how to deal with such situations. It must have really racked its head over the solutions. But as time passes by it is able to have explored really well thought out responsible responses to deal with all the challenges. I am citing the RCI as an example.

Extraordinary people are those who face the challenges and adversities with extraordinary ingenuity and with the only available resources boldly rather than meekly surrender. Sabah government under the able and extraordinary leadership of Musa Aman, have met with all the challenges all the turbulent phases daringly and fearlessly and on every occasion it came out victorious and triumphant. The main reason of the success of the leadership of this government, I believe, is that it has faith in the core values of democracy and always capitalizes on the ‘virtues of adversities’.

The present Sabah government is an epitome of statesmanship and democratic values. At the end I have to confess that this small write-up is not an insider’s comment on the workings of the government. It is just a common man’s observation.

  1. starflyer says:

    Borneo Native,

    Please speak for yourself. Dont simply claim to represent the views of all the “Professionals in Sabah”.


  2. the setting up of this RCI also is in line with the terms of agreement of the formation of Malaysia in 1963 on the federal government’s assurance to protect the Sabah people, including to contain the entry of illegal immigrants to the state..


  3. Professionals in Sabah view the setting up of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah as proof of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s and Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman sincerity to resolve the problem..


  4. Eric Paulsen says:

    While Lawyers for Liberty in principle supports the setting up of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on immigration problems in Sabah, it views with concern the escalating rhetoric and demands surrounding the RCI that may have serious repercussion on the lives and human rights of some of the most vulnerable people in Sabah including undocumented women and street children of refugee/ migrant descent. Many live in poverty and a life of exploitation, unable to access basic social services but are also unfairly blamed and easily targeted by politicians for social ills in the state.

    It goes without saying that all citizenship matters including grant of citizenship, identity documents and registration in the electoral roll must be conducted properly and in accordance with established laws, regulations and practises and not through corrupt practises, fraud or for improper political gains.

    Frontier territory

    Sabah like any other bustling frontier territory attracts both short and long term cross border migration, some who have entered and stayed legally, while others illegally. However, in our endeavour to enquire into wrongful past practises, we must be mindful that these are generations of migrants and refugees with varying histories and circumstances, many of whom have permanently settled in Sabah, inter married, born or lived all their lives in the state.

    Consequently, these people may have properly acquired citizenship or permanent resident status and all the accompanying rights. They have a relevant and genuine link with Sabah/Malaysia (through birth, habitual residence, descent, marriage or naturalisation) and rights under Malaysian and international law including not to be made stateless, freedom from arbitrary arrest/detention, torture, inhumane and other degrading treatment and right to life.

    While the issues at stake are serious and have far reaching consequences, the citizenship and fundamental human rights of persons should not be sacrificed for the sake of political mileage or sensationalism.

    Lawyers for Liberty therefore calls for all parties to remain level headed and not let prejudicial, racist or xenophobic sentiments to slant the enquiry which should be conducted objectively and based on all available evidence, testimonies and legal norms.

    Eric Paulsen is Co-founder & Adviser of Lawyers for Liberty

    Address: Unit A-1-10, Block A, 8 Avenue, Jalan Sungai Jernih 8/1, Seksyen 8, 46050 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan

    Tel: 03 – 7960 4537 | Fax: 03 – 7960 6688


  5. Pemerhati says:

    Henrynus Amin congratulated Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman, for his foresight to set up the Sabah BN committee on citizenship under the chairmanship of Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is also PBS President which served as the catalyst in the formation of the RCI.

    He said as a member of the Sabah BN committee on citizenship, he witnessed how the committee discussed and articulated the popular demand for RCI, and then formulated the terms of reference most of which were adopted by the Federal government.


  6. Sabahan says:

    The failure to include the highly respected authority on this issue – Tan Sri Simon Sipaun – to the RCI team clearly shows that this Najib move is insincere. That this RCI will end up as another BN sham. This is self-evident when the terms of reference have completely evaded the subject of resolution to this Sabah tragedy. Najib is taking Sabah for granted. Sabahans are not stupid, we have change governments 3 times in the past, we can do it again. Where was WEST MALAYSIANS when we Sabahans kicked out BN in 1985?


  7. Shah says:

    Is Najib genuinely interested in finding the truth?The answer is big no.This is just another drama…..sit back,relax and enjoy the show just like the other RCIs.Remember correct,correct,correct,…..Remember TBH…..What came out from there……Nothing.


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