Proposal on stateless people, street kids

Proposal on stateless people, street kids
14 June, 2008

Kota Kinabalu: A third country may be asked to accept Sabah’s stateless people and street children.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, who floated the idea, said this could be one of the solutions to the perennial illegal immigrant problem in the State.

He said while deporting illegal immigrants could be done easily it was the Stateless people and street children that posed a big problem.

"If we can identify (the illegals) like, for instance, that they are from Indonesia or the Philippines, we can give them travel documents that come from their embassies and then send them back.

"Where we have problem is when the people do not have anything, some not even a birth certificate É no country wants to accept them," he said at the end of this two-day visit, here, Friday.

In light of this, he said banking on countries willing to take in these people could be a good idea.

"Like the Rohingyas (in the peninsula), we previously discussed with the United States who were willing to accept about a few thousand into their country," Syed Hamid said.

He said apart from these issues, Malaysia also had other things to consider pertaining to Stateless people and streetchildren such as human rights, children’s rights and international law.

The United Nations considers those without documents and not accepted by their countries as refugees, he said.

"The most complex issue is people without documents É how are we to deal with this? We cannot simply take and send them to some country (as) they will say ‘they are not ours’.

"But we can understand the fear of the locals," Syed Hamid said, adding they had deported more than 100,000 illegal immigrants since 2000.

He said the Cabinet Committee on illegal immigrants headed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would meet soon to discuss solutions and areas to tackle in Sabah as well as other parts of the country.

"Ultimately I think we will have people who (really) understand the issue, which is complex and technical É it cannot be only from our side. We will call up people from the State," he said.

He also urged the people in Sabah not to be overly sensitive and emotional about the issue, adding the media could help in this matter.

To a question, he said there was no need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into claims that illegals obtained identity cards through the backdoor.

"I think we have stated, where they are Malaysians we cannot go back to question their rights as citizens.

"I cannot question (for instance) when I look at you and ask because you look different from me where do you come from, how did you get your citizenship. That is not within my power.

"I think citizens are bound by the constitution of the country.

"And I do not think (for) every issue we face we have to establish a Royal Commission," Syed Hamid said.

THE Government is thinking about placing anti-narcotics officers in certain countries to better combat the drug menace.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid said Malaysia could secure more valuable information, especially on international drug rings if the officers, called drug liaison officers, were stationed outside the country and worked with the enforcement authorities there.

"We have our intelligence and police-to-police relations with (for example) Interpol but sometimes it is good to have our people there to improve intelligence gathering and moreover the interaction would be on a constant basis.

"I am seriously looking into this possibility, at how best we can do it," he said after a briefing with the heads of the Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID).

Also present was Bukit Aman NCID director Datuk Zulhasnan Mohd Najib.

He said based on the briefing they found that there was a tendency for international drug syndicates to use Malaysia as their transit point.

Syed Hamid is also worried about Malaysians being manipulated by the syndicates and being used as couriers for drugs.

"We looked at their modus operandi at how they lure our people, especially girls, to be part of their syndicate, even to the extent of pretending to want to marry them.

"And they (Malaysians) end up being arrested outside the country," he said.

He explained that Malaysia has its Special Branch officers, for instance in Thailand, but their tasks involve mainly gathering of general intelligence.

"They (Special Branch officers) look out for everything, and it is not they cannot do the work, but we do not want to overburden them.

"Since we have the NCID, we want to have these liaison officers there where they will focus only on drugs," Syed Hamid said.

But he admitted the implementation of this programme might take a while.

"The sooner we can do it the better but we have to take into account the technical and logistical requirements. It cannot be implemented immediately."

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