By Queville To
KOTA KINABALU: The explosive issue of Sabahans flocking to Peninsular Malaysia in seach of work and ending up as vagrants is now a ‘numbers’ game.
Politicians are tossing about unsubstantiated figures with Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman claiming saying the number is likely to in the region of just 20 rather than the 2,000 reported in the local media last month.
But his nemesis former Chief Minister of Sabah, Yong Teck Lee, said Musa’s estimate seemed to be pulled out of a hat.
Without proving a figure himself, Yong said scores of Sabahans who had gone to Peninsular Malaysia in search of employment ended up working as security guards, car washers, parking attendants and other lowly-paid and menial jobs.
He said while it was difficult for them to find better jobs in the Peninsular due to their inexperience, it was even more difficult for them to land jobs back home in Sabah.
The difficulty, he said, is epitomised by the preference the government shows when filling positions in federal departments in the state. Most are taken-up by non-Sabahans.
“What is more depressing is even the post of a clerk in the federal department in Labuan is occupied by a non-local, blatantly depriving opportunities for the locals there,” he said.
Yong said even though this contradicts the Borneonisation of the state’s civil service as stipulated in the Malaysia Agreement of 1963, it continues to happen.
Violation of Malaysia Agreement
The Malaysia Agreement of 1963 states that priority in civil service positions must be given to the people of Sabah.
The hot-button issue has become an embarrassment for the state BN government who have dithered over how to handle it.
Yong, who is president of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) said this when officiating a branch office in Papar.
Present were former Sabah finance minister Mohd Noor Mansor and several senior members of the party including MP for Sepangar Eric Majimbun.
There are no official statistics available on the number of Sabahans who have left the state to seek employment elsewhere.
But Sabah DAP chief-cum MP for Kota Kinabalu Dr Hiew King Cheu said over the weekend that there are about 200,000 Sabahans working in the various sectors in Peninsular Malaysia.
He said a sizeable number of them were from the interior of Sabah, including Ranau and Tambunan.
It is hard to know what these unfortunate Sabahans feel about being reduced to mere units in the state’s political tug-of-war.