KOTA KINABALU: The Government has to thoroughly study and explain the intention behind the proposal to issue temporary work permits to the illegal immigrants (PATI) in the plantations and industrial sectors in the country before making any decisions.

United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (UPKO) Youth chief, Felix Joseph Saang said that the Government must avoid any unwanted consequences, which could pave the way for the entry of even more PATIs to the country in the future.

“Before coming up with the suggestion, the Government should at least first invite the locals to fill the vacancies in the two sectors. The Government should propose reasonable salaries and commensurate benefits for the workers in these sectors.

“With good salaries and benefits, I believe that more locals, and even youths would be interested in these sectors – especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, which had caused many to lose their jobs,” said Felix in a statement here today.

The UPKO Beluran chief pointed out that many Malaysians, especially those in Sabah, have voiced out their concerns upon hearing the proposal, which was announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last Friday.

“Among the issues raised concerned the influx of PATIs in the state – a longstanding problem that has not yet been resolved for nearly two decades now,” he said.

Felix opined that Sabahans deserved to voice out their concerns as the proposed permit may allow the PATIs to reside in the country even longer, instead of actually fixing the problem.

“On top of that, we don’t know the extent of the Government’s transparency in issuing the permits. We don’t want to accuse anyone, but the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) had proven that the ‘Projek IC’ did in fact exist in Sabah,” he said.

“We don’t want this to happen again. As such, it is my suggestion that the vacancies should be filled by locals and that they should be given reasonable salaries.

“If this were to materialise, we would solve two problems at once. First, we would be able to prevent the entry of PATIs in the state and second, we would give more job opportunities to the locals,” added Felix.

Felix had also welcomed Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah’s (PBRS) deputy president, Arthur Joseph Kurup’s call for the Government to conduct a comprehensive study on the proposal.

The Gabungan Rakyat Sabah-led State Government, which is comprised of Perikatan Nasional (which STAR is a part of), Barisan Nasional and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) had previously pledged to deport the PATIs in Sabah in the event that they win the snap state election.

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