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New security rules: A blessing, a curse

The new government gazette to manage Sabah’s security
strangely enough does not seek to deter intrusion by
foreigners, or cleanse Sabah of illegal immigrants.
By Luke Rintod of FMT
KOTA KINABALU: The federal government gazette to manage public security in Sabah’s eastern area could be both a blessing and a curse to Sabahans.

The gazette which is officially called “Preservation of Public Security Regulations 2013” was published on March 24 and contains four objectives, with 19 major regulations under five parts.

While it failed to give details on how it will beef up security against foreign intrusions in Sabah’s east, the gazette did touch on a few major issues that are expected to be potentially controversial.

The gazette, published by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and signed by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, has not been made public yet, but those who have seen it claimed it could be misinterpreted as Malaysia’s yet own unmaking of its sovereignty.

Even the four objectives laid out under this gazette avoid touching on immigration reform, the main issue of contention here.

Instead, the gazette states that the regulations are to ensure the well-being, public health and peaceful co-existence of the people in Sabah generally and the Eastern Area specifically.

It also seeks to ensure and enhance the security and safety of the people in Malaysia generally, and Sabah and Eastern Area specifically.

The Eastern Area covers 10 Sabah districts from Kudat, Kota Marudu, Pitas in northern Sabah to Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Kunak, Semporna and Tawau in the south.

Contentious provision

Strangely, the objectives of the gazette do not seek to deter any intrusion of foreigners or cleanse Sabah of illegal immigrants, the so-called “mother of all problems” in the state.

The gazette, however, provides instead the “resettling” of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

That comes under regulation No. 10 of the gazette which stipulates: “For the purpose of preservation of public security, the government may order any person or group of persons, particularly person or group of persons who are illegal immigrants or stateless persons, to be resettled to an area to be determined by the government.”

The government is also empowered to run a special registration for those resettled people and provide them with accommodation and security.

It further adds that the Malaysian government must consider the livelihood of the persons to be resettled in an area, most likely to be near existing settlement areas.

The gazette permits district chiefs, native chiefs or headmen to raise concern or objection to the resettlement and obliges the government to take into consideration the concern or objection.

Another potentially hot issue under the gazette is the provision to compel private entity to furnish any information to government agencies in the name of preserving public security.

Regulation 8 stipulates it is an offence for a private entity to refuse furnishing information to the government.

District Officers now redundant

The corporate body or its director/manager/secretary, may be liable to be imprisoned up to six months. The director could be charged severally or jointly with the body corporate.

The gazette establishes the setting up of two high-powered committees: the Eastern Sabah Zone Safety Committee and the Oversight Committee.

The Eastern Sabah Zone Safety Committee will be chaired by Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman and assisted by a chief executive officer. It could make District Officers redundant or strip them of some of their powers.

The Sabah committee is subject to and answerable to the higher Oversight Committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak and assisted by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

The Oversight Committee is to assess the effectiveness and necessity of the regulations on an annual basis.

With no timeframe to resolve Sabah’s security problems, it indicates that the regulations could be around in Sabah for a long period.

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