KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Panglima Shafie Apdal yesterday said that issuing citizenship to eligible stateless and permanent residents would not result in another “Project IC”.
The government would regulate foreign workers, not by issuing them with identification cards but to know about their whereabouts, he said.
“We will make sure that ‘Project IC’ will not happen,” he said after after witnessing the Sutera Harbour Resort’s National Day celebration here yesterday.
Shafie said he would make it the state’s priority to ensure eligible Malaysians in Sabah who are stateless or are holding red identification cards are granted citizenship.
He said the state government would make this its priority since there were many cases involving the indigenous folk of Sabah with red identification cards facing difficulties getting citizenship.
“Since KL (federal government) is already facilitating it, why not? I don’t see why not,” he said.
Shafie said the matter was under the purview of the federal government and the state government would be facilitating it.
The National Registration Department is the department dealing with the issue, he said.
He added that the problem with stateless people or those holding red identification cards even though they had indigenous parents was not unique to Sabah.
“It is not only in Sabah, but also Malaysians in Sarawak. When I was the rural minister, I visited some remote areas. There are some Ibans without identity cards and birth certificates because they are so remote,” he said.
He said it was important to ensure that these people had their own eligibility as a Malaysian, as a Sarawakian and as a Sabahan.
“We don’t want that at the end of the day, they will be chased away from their own country and have no place they can go to. It is alien to them. This is their birth right and by virtue of that, we should grant them,” he said.
The Chief Minister also said addressing the issue affecting stateless young people must be welcomed and it was important to look into its detail and how best it could be implemented.
However, he reminded that Sabah has a lot of complexities which need to be trashed out.
He said there were many countries in the world, including the US and the UK which provided citizenship to people who fulfilled the requirements.