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Sabahans “refugees in their own land” because outnumbered by foreigners – Nazri adds insult to injury

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  


(Parliament, Saturday) : In my speech in Parliament during the debate on the 2007 Budget early this month, I had drawn attention to the nightmarish conditions in Sabah – its highest population growth, the largest number of illegal immigrants, the highest poverty incidence, the worst income inequality between the rich and poor, the least developed state and the most frequent power  and water supply breakdowns.


For the winding-up on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Department, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had prepared a five-paragraph reply to one of the eight Sabah issues I had raised – the shocking increase in the Sabah population by nearly 400  per cent from 648,693 in 1970 to 3.13 million in 2005 as disclosed by the Ninth Malaysia Plan.


I had demanded explanation for the much-discussed  “Project M” which was estimated to  be responsible for the bulk of the nearly one million ICs fraudulently issued  to illegal immigrants in Sabah in the past two decades. I had in Parliament said that  “the extraordinary growth of the Sabah illegal population can be shown that in 1960, the Kadazandusun population was 168,000 and equalled the number of other Bumiptueras but in 2000, while the Kadazandusun population increased to 560,000, the population of other Bumiputeras had grown to 1.1 million”.


However, Nazri did not get to deliver his five-paragraph reply which were in pages 77-78 of his 84-page reply, as he cut short his speech after delivering only 18 pages – after protests of outrage by DAP MPs as he was reading at a “bullet-train” speech with  no one able  to understand what he was saying and refusing to allow any clarification from DAP MPs.


Nazri has given me a copy of his 84-page reply, and I am shocked that his five-paragaph answer  was a most deplorable attempt  to  re-write  history and demography of Sabah to make Sabahans “refugees in their own land” and to legitimise  “Project M” in the indiscriminate and rampant  issue of  I/Cs to unqualified foreigners.


Nazri has taken the easy but most irresponsible way out to rebut the charge that Sabah has the most rapid population increase in the world in the  past three-and-a-half  decades in the almost four-fold jump from 648,693 in 1970 to 3.13 million in 2005 by the simple expedient of increasing the baseline in 1970 and claimed that there were over   a million people in Sabah in 1970.


This is Nazri’s prepared reply:


“Yang Berhomat Ipoh Timur membangkitkan isu pertambahan penduduk Sabah dalam bilangan yang sangat tinggi. Menurut rekod Jabatan Perangkaan, penduduk Sabah yang mempunyai kad pengenalan dan sijil lahir pada tahun 2006 seramai 2,011,602. Dari jumlah itu 740,381 yang mendaftar lewat (late registration – dengan izin) dan lahir sebelum 1971. Di samping itu, terdapat seramai 85,451 anak-anak hasil perkahwinan wanita tempatan dengan pemastautin tetap.


“Jumlah di atas menunjukkan penduduk Sabah telah mencecah lebih satu juta pada tahun 1970. Dengan kadar kelahiran antara 1.5% hingga 2.5% setahun, jumlah penduduk Sabah dari 1970 hingga 2006 mencecah lebih dua juta selaras dengan bilangan semasa.


“Bilangan pendatang asing di Sabah menunjukkan peningkatan yang tinggi sejak 1980-an berikutan kemasukan pelarian Islam Filipina antara 1972 hingga 1984 dan pekerja asing dalam semua sektor ekonomi. Contohnya, jumlah kehadiran buruh asing kurang mahir yang sah di Sabah dari tahun 2000 hingga 2005 mencapai lebih 500,000. Ini tidak termasuk kehadiran pekerja asing separa mahir dan mahir di samping pekerja dari Semenanjung.


“Kehadiran pendatang asing tanpa izin (PATI) di Sabah sukar untuk dipastikan jumlahnya kerana kemasukan mereka tidak direkodkan. Tindakan-tindakan bersepadu oleh agensi-agensi penguatkuasa menghasilkan tangkapan pada purata 300 PATI setiap hari. Sejak 2000 hingga 2005, lebih 150,000 PATI telah dihantar balik ke negara asal.


“Tiada bukti kukuh yang menunjukkan pertambahan penduduk Sabah disebabkan oleh kehadiran PATI. Sementara itu dakwaan bahawa kad pengenalan (MyKad) diberi kepada pendatang asing di luar prosedur sedang disiasat oleh pihak PDRM.”


Nazri’s claim that Sabah had a population of over one million people in 1970 is most preposterous, something which he had taken from thin air, without any scientific or statistical basis. 


I would refer him to the Seventh Malaysia Plan 1996-2000 (Table 5-1) where the population for Sabah (including Labuan) for 1980 was given as 1.055 million and reaching 1.867 million in 1991, registering the highest average annual rate of growth of 5.2 per cent for any state in the decade 1981-1991.


The Seventh Malaysia Plan was tabled in Parliament in May 1996.

If Nazri is right, he would have to make public a completely new set of population figures for Sabah since 1963, and revise all the tables and charts about Sabah population figures in all the previous Five-Year Plans, Mid-Term Reviews as well as other official publications.


As the overall national population figures would also be affected by such upward revision for Sabah population in the past four decades, will the population figures for Malaysia in all the government publications since formation of Malaysia in 1963 be altered accordingly?


Nazri has added insult to injury and rubbed salt to wounds  by showing utter contempt  to the legitimate grievances of Sabahans that they had been reduced to being ”refugees in their own land” by concocting for the first time the  baseless and preposterous claim that Sabah population had already exceeded  one million people in 1970 when it was actually  less than two-thirds this figure of some 650,000.


Let all the Barisan Nasional parties and leaders in Sabah speak up as to whether they agree with Nazri, that there had been no demographic crisis in Sabah because of the foreigners exceeding native population by illegal and fraudulent means – as there were already over one million people in Sabah in 1970, something which had been kept a top secret from Malaysians and the world for 36 years!



*  Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman

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