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Kampung Pictures Tale in Ten What's my future, Malaysia?
What's my future, Malaysia? PDF Print E-mail
Written by straits-mongrel   
Sunday, 11 April 2010 00:44


She's twelve years old. Bronzed skin, hair bleached from the salted sun. We didn't manage to get her name; she was with her girl friends - carefree and full of cheer - at the Kota Kinabalu waterfront just beside the Handicraft Market that afternoon. They came and willingly jumped in front of the camera, making hip-hop poses like teens from the 'hood. She was chatty, just like any other healthy girl except for one big difference.


She's never been to school. There isn't one where she lives. She cannot read nor write. She knows rudimentary arithmetic - simple addition and subtraction. Ditto her group of friends. Each morning the girls leave their homes in the settlements at Pulau Gaya and come ashore to the city's waterfront seeking menial work - dishwashing, food prep and packaging. Promises of the dreams of a high-income economy and the NEM would be pretty meaningless for people like them. In most likelihood, a frustration will build up as the world passes them by. And then what?


Could this be the timebomb that Project IC planted?



How fair is it that these children, innocent of any crime, be deprived of a promising future because of negligence by their hosts, willing or unwilling?


We were with Sabah activist Dr Chong Eng Leong that afternoon in mid-March before the SABM Sama-sama Roadshow. The former Sabah senator and practising surgeon had offered to explain to us at SABM what he considers one of the biggest issues facing Sabah for over two decades now - foreigners and Project IC. And the best way was to see for ourselves.


Project IC, or more pointedly Project M, refers to the "allegation of systematic granting of citizenship to immigrants (whether illegal or legal immigrants) by giving them identity documents known as IC (identity card), and subsequently, MyKad" (Wikipedia). It is alleged to be a covert exercise with its roots in the early 1990s to alter the demographics of Sabah to make it more favorable to the ruling government and certain political parties.


Much has been talked about in the warongs and kopitiams and to some degree the media, yet investigations over Project IC never reached a satisfactory momentum nor conclusion. Dr Chong believes the evidence is damning and all around in the daily life of Sabah. He self-published a book, Lest We Forget (Security and Sovereignty of Sabah), in July last year, an effort which compiles hard facts and newspaper clippings to advance the awareness of Project IC.



The Handicraft Market itself is a place filled with lively paraphernalia - beadwork, carvings, silverware and fabric. "Most of these are not produced in Sabah. They're brought in mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines," said Dr Chong, who's comfortable jumping from one local dialect to another. And the people who sell them? "Filipinos, largely," he added. "You can tell from the dialect they speak." Incidentally, the Handicraft Market was known as the Pasar Filipina until recently. The locals still call it by that name.

"Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against foreigners," said Dr Chong. "They are human beings who seek a better life; borders mean nothing to them. It is the lack of a political will in both the Federal and State governments to resolve this problem that gets to me," said the former politician. "They refuse to even acknowledge it's a problem."


Saturday afternoons at the markets flanking the KK waterfront are a casual affair. Tourists stroll the walkways toting cameras, families finish buying their day's groceries, the smell of pickled vegetables and fresh fruit intoxicates. On a cemented planter, male bonding takes place over a game of chess.



A line of tailors steal a nap during the lazy, shady hours. It's quite a delight seeing those vintage Singers still in use.


And as a solitary machine goes 'shik-shik-shik' in the background, the issue about Sabah's fragile fabric crops up again. In a territory that saw the population increase by a stupefying 301 percent in 30 years (1970-2000), it is a phenomenon that surely needs to be investigated closely. Especially since neighbours Sarawak grew by 106 percent, and Brunei 157 percent in the same time-frame.


"Sabah's borders were deliberately kept porous. You could enter and leave it like a sieve," said Dr Chong.



"They were considered a vote bank. I have collated the reports and evidence in my book," said Dr Chong. "Look, in those 30 years the Kadazan-Dusun-Murut community grew by 162 percent - a population growth that makes sense. But those classified as Malay grew by a staggering 1,552 percent. Federal government hasn't given any solid explanation for that.


"But the worse thing is the humanitarian aspect. You're brought in as a vote bank, you're offered MyKad, given Bumi status, perhaps resettled somewhere and that's it. You are expected to remain grateful. No education for your children. No proper sanitary system. No refuse collection - rubbish is disposed in the sea or burned in some common dumpyard nearby. It's an epidemic waiting to happen."



And most tragic of all, it is the locals who get the short end of the stick. "You know, conditions are even worse for the natives of Sabah. Visit their kampongs scattered all over Sabah if you can. They get no water nor electricity supply. Let's not even mention schools for the moment," said Dr Chong in between swigs of coconut water. "We have many cases of true-blue Sabah natives who were denied MyKad even though they have birth certs to prove their case.


"How can a government do this to its own people?"

In the wet market, Dr Chong converses with a shy and gentle Bajau woman in her dialect as she cleans some local cabbage. "Ah Kota Belud! Sama-sama. That's my kampong too," he exclaimed happily as we left the market area. We had to move on.


From the charm of the waterfront, we drove across the scenic Likas bay to Telipok about 30 km away. Here, two government-initiated settlements have sprung up over the years. Atop a hill lies Kampung Boronuon. The residents prefer to call it Kg Penempatan - resettled. They were resettled from Pulau Gaya in 2001. Back then, the Mayor of Kota Kinabalu had assured the people of Telipok that the Pulau Gaya resettlers were Malaysians. But in this part of the world, as we were beginning to see, the meaning of Malaysian can be as hazy as smog from the annual Kalimantan fires.


In Dr Chong's book, Lest We Forget, he cites numerous cases of dubious citizenship. Here is a sampling:


• Pulau Gaya fag smuggler, admitted in Court being a Philippines-born Malaysian, but his new IC is coded 12 ie born in Sabah. His old IC number was H0558763, and is still registered in Sabah Electoral Rolls today.


• One foreigner was convicted in 1992 for possession of fake IC and he told the Court that he got his IC through Project President Mahathir (appendix 51 of book). He was jailed for two years and managed to get registered in 1995 in Sabah Electoral Rolls after release - was he deported after release but sneaked back? His old IC number was H0487096 and is still in Sabah Electoral Rolls today.


• Salman Majid - arrested in March 2005 at KLIA and detained for 199 days in Immigration Centre in Sepang... Salman stated in the Sijil Akuan that he was born in Ranau, Sabah when in fact he was born in Pakistan. His old and new IC numbers were H0352141 and 620202-12-5053 respectively.

Salman had this to say about issuance of his IC: "Pada tahun 80'an saya telah ditawarkan kad pengenalan di Sabah semasa Projek Khas. Saya telah menerima tawaran itu bersama dengan beribu-ribu rakyat Sabah yang lain."

Got your attention yet?



Down in the valley from Kg Penempatan lies a serpentine grouping of houses. This is Kg Pelarian, otherwise known as the UNHCR Settlement Scheme. It was established in the 1970s under the watch of the UN for Filipinos fleeing from the civil war in southern Philippines. Although the war has long since ended and UN funds ceased, the land continues to be inhabited. Instead of diminishing in number, more houses are being built in this area. A 2006 Borneo Post report said more than 1,000 dwellings are occupying the land and growing.



In both these neighbouring settlements, life isn't super. There isn't much in terms of amenities; there's electricity and water supply. Waste just goes into a hole or a waterway. The residents are a hardy lot. But the story repeats - no schooling.


At about 3pm that afternoon, we noticed a dusty van driving in front of us along the narrow, winding lane. It stopped not far ahead, its body listed to one side because of the potholes. A couple of young girls - no more than 15 years old and dressed in tees and jeans - boarded the van. Dish-washer girls again, we wondered? Or rather, we hoped. For it could easily be something even worse. Something like prostitution.


It is not mere imaginings. Another excerpt from Lest We Forget:


• Six girls in vice activities in Perak in March 2002 were initially said to be Sabahans but Sabah Police Chief later on corrected by saying that they were Indonesians whose Malaysian ICs were issued by Sabah NRD.



If true, Project IC is not merely about the story of a power-crazed government pulling all the stops to retain its position. It is about the social repercussions which hurt the state and the very people who were invited inside our borders. The denial of basic education is a human rights violation. And when these bubbly young children grow to be adults who have to seek a livelihood and start families, will they be bitter for having been cheated?


And it is not a Sabah problem, hermetically speaking. It is a Malaysian one. With a MyKad in hand, any person can enter Semenanjung. No New Economic Model is going to be far-sighted enough to handle that situation. We'll be seeing the effects of all this in less than a generation.


Clearly, there has to be an open, honest investigation into the Project IC allegations. Government must make this happen. We the Rakyat will make this an election issue.


And as for the young, the likes of whom we met in Sabah, let's get real. They are here and will remain here. We have but one best option...



Teach them to fish.


In our most creative ways, teach them to fish so they know they belong. It is only proper that we do.


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luxmi  - The Unwanted |2010-04-12 10:56:12


I say, there's nothing much whoever can do
However, there is one.... teach the growing girls to practise STRICT FAMILY PLANNING.
Hope for the future...
Be realistic and don't allow any RELIGION to tell you otherwise.
This is the only way....CUT the numbers of babies being born....
Paul Warren  - Project M - Benefits to the Proponents! |2010-04-12 13:48:35
If this group is now producing children who become prostitutes, would that make the proponents, pimps? After all they have and continue to benefit from the vote don't they? And Mahathir is the chief Pimp?
Ligot Liouh  - Malayan Leaders are Evil! |2010-04-12 14:56:35






<img src=hock:' title='


hock:' class='postemoticon' /> If only WE ever know that the MALAYAN GOVERNMENT Leaders was going to treat[us Sabahans] this way, WE should never agree to join in the formation of Malaysian Federationn in the very first place. They are WORSE than our previous colonies. There is only one option available for Sabahans is to; get INDEPENDENCE OURSELVES.
MICHAEL AK BINTANG  - Looking Forward With Uncertainty Future |2010-04-12 16:22:02


I used to work in Sabah for almost a year and due to the nature of my work,it required me to stay in several islands for HR purposes.Sometimes staying there up to a month in each island,what DR CHONG wrote about foreigners were given free Malaysian citizens as long they give 100% support to the ruling government is undeniably true. They are truly PENDATANG but by possessing MYCARD,we know who are the kind provider.I alone can't do much to change this totally wrong curroupt practice by the cunning power craze ruling government.I have lost faith in the present government due to their cheating the true deserving rakyat.Forget about the so called investigation into the alleged giving free Malaysian citizenship to foreigners by the government.No evident will be found and the true findings will be buried until eternity.Are we turly loyal so called MALAYSIAN.
Michael |2010-04-12 22:39:27
Yes, teach them to fish and feed a generation.

love the article. very well written
mantaray |2010-04-12 23:57:24
I've lived in Sabah for the past 8 years. It is a problem that isn't easy to solve. Many foreigners have settled down in Sabah and even inter marry. The line between local and illegals are getting blurrer by the day. The children are victims caught by which side of the border they were born. Even so it is pretty easy to be born in the favorable side of the border. The only way to stop this is to put a stop to further influx of foreigners once and for all. The ones already here, it's probably better to absorb them and educate them. At least they won't turn to crime. We have to pay some price for the foolishness of the past. Just too bad.
Joshua Y C Kong  - Get to the roots of Sabah EPIC problems |2010-04-13 07:41:14
EPIC = Extra People Identity Cards written by Joshua Kong in three editions.
Ethnic cleansing & Apartheid

rigging by Election Commission to keep UMNO in power in Sabah.
Dominic Onb  - Malaysian Blind? |2010-04-13 10:51:05


Are we as Malaysians blinded to all these truth that is out there or are we complacent that it is not WE out there? I have actually thought about all this crap about NEM and I am sure that the wealth will not reach these people in the rural area. Their lives still be the same 10 years from now and the issue of NEM will still be debated like the NEP - after 20 years, it is still the same. Who benefited? Only the small elite group up there who so called the Government! These projects are just cover ups and sometimes I am utterly pissed-off with even the opposite parties who knows all these nonsense being practiced and no one seems to dare to voice out. There will not be waves if there were no wind! As lay people, we can only hear and trust our own judgment but the politicians has resources. How are these resources used to combat corruption, cronism and nepotism? That is one thing about politicians I hate - they promise a lot but deliver little. Why? once they get what they want, they go on cruise-mode at the expense of the rakyat. Prove us wrong - get up and fight!
Anthony Dass  - None |2010-04-13 15:10:27


Vote the Regime responsible for the I.C. Project out.
Joea  - What's my future, Malaysia? |2010-04-13 16:28:17
UMNO would not want to revisit the I.C. project and neither should we if the objective is to establish blame.

We know who was behind this. Just drag him out and skin him if we must. Just go ahead and skin the old bastard tyrant mahatir.

mahatir wants their votes and to increase bumi share but share it among only the UMNOputras. Not just the immigrants but the rural malays were his victims too, together with us non malays.

Bumis were less than 50% then and should be about 52-55% now and not much more.

Now is the time to look at the problems and find urgent solution for the many young ones. Like it or not, they are a part of us now and must be brought into the main stream to beget their share under the poverty eradication programme under the Pakatan government.

They may have been given a place but they have been left to fend for themselves. Pakatan must include them in the poverty eradication programme when Pakatan form the next federal government.


Can any loyal and sound mind of Malaysians giving away free Malaysian Citizenship like giving away sales brochures at pasar malam? Are we serious about controlling the infux of illegal immigrants into our land or we are welcoming them with open arms? In my personal and humble opinion,our present ruling government is just giving lip service but in reality they are closing both eyes to the illegal immigrant issue. I wonder why. I guess some LOYAL Malaysians know the truth. If one decides to apply for Malaysian Citizenship, don't they have to fill up many forms,pass the compulsory citizen tests and are they professionals,business people,skilled workers,semi-skilled workers and etc...etc.If you were to ask any of them, who are given free Malaysian Citizenship,they can't even write and read bahasa Malaysia.Or even worse ask them to sing our national anthem.You will be surprise by your findings.It is so easy for them because they are being blackmailed know who.You scratch my back,I scratch your back. Win-win solution for them but for us,truly anak Malaysia, we are at the losing ends.
angel  - re: What's my future, Malaysia? |2010-04-13 21:41:40


so many people need help out there esp the children.... and yet the silly politics drama self-directed by themselves one by one producing non-stop
Nicole |2010-04-14 09:10:04
I do agree some opinion by saying that they should be teaches to control in Produce more babies. Even more Sabahans should plays big role .. please be more aggressive ... do not Treat this PTI same locals Treat people as you .... Please do not give them any privileged such as a house to be rent or any business to be run by them!


mantaray  - re: |2010-04-14 22:54:52
In another 1-2 generations, nobody can tell if one is a local or an illegal foreigner anymore.

The 3 girls are probably Bajau Lauts from the Philipines. The boys looked local.

I'm not a Sabahan but I feel sorry for the local Sabahans ie Dusuns etc who were shortchanged due to poverty and poor education. And they the sad thing is that they don't even realize it until one day it will be too late. I don't see the local Sabahans shouting "Hak Hak Hak" like some of their counterparts in the Peninsular. They are nice and perhaps naive. They should choose their leaders wisely during the next election. Big mistake was to let a "foreign" political party into Sabah!
aku bah |2012-03-28 23:24:03
Saya nampak macam 'pilaks' saja pun muka mereka tu.
Dharma  - Don't fall into the trap |2010-04-16 06:51:02


Remove the hold of fear that the government has on the project Mahathir citizens. It is through this fear that Umno hopes to get their votes. It is futile to think that you can expel the huge number of Filipinos who have been made into Malaysians. What is needed is to free them from the fear that if they do not support Umno they will eventually be expelled. So, hard as it is, we should not be angry at these desperate people who have been admitted into the nation. We should embrace them and not let them feel that Malaysians are their enemy and Umno their protector. And we should also ensure that in the future no political party will be able to barter away citizenship rights.
kazza  - non |2010-04-15 17:51:55
they r not locals.. we have plenty of this.. and that place call pasar Philippines, what do you expect?
George  - re: re: |2010-04-29 10:32:17
mantaray wrote:
In another 1-2 generations, nobody can tell if one is a local or an illegal foreigner anymore.

The 3 girls are probably Bajau Lauts from the Philipines. The boys looked local.

I'm not a Sabahan but I feel sorry for the local Sabahans ie Dusuns etc who were shortchanged due to poverty and poor education. And they the sad thing is that they don't even realize it until one day it will be too late. I don't see the local Sabahans shouting "Hak Hak Hak" like some of their counterparts in the Peninsular. They are nice and perhaps naive. They should choose their leaders wisely during the next election. Big mistake was to let a "foreign" political party into Sabah!


sabah locals are very nice and warm people...they love to live in peace and harmony...about the sabah rights that u mention, well u r is time to bring changes into sabah due the illegal migrants and poor education system...hopefully the Federal and State Govt will solve the issues....
Larry |2011-02-17 13:41:40
It's sad to see that there are so many underprivileged children here in Sabah.
aku bah |2012-03-28 23:27:43
True Larry. Hopefully hal ini dapat ditanggani sewajarnya.
aku bah |2012-03-28 23:22:00
Macam familiar dengan story ni.Tapi tak ingat di mana pernah saya terbaca atau ternapak story sebegini...
aku bah |2012-03-28 23:26:43
pasar Philippines??? Its Pasar Besar KK la. Don't called it as pasar Philippines otherwise all the pilaks will be happy because they have their own pasar in Sabha.
aku bah |2012-03-28 23:29:27
I love this article and I hope the authorities concern will look into it.
Sailim |2013-07-20 12:10:35
I believe with State goverment to solve this support by Federal goverment.

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