Kota Kinabalu, Monday 14 October 2019
The unexpected large gathering of foreigners at the Luyang Community Centre last night that had caught the authorities by surprise is a serious cause for concern. Foreigners had come from Kudat, Ranau, Keningau and other districts of Sabah. As I drove past the Luyang Community Centre at 7:30pm (Sunday), I saw a crowd of strangers composing of adults and children. Cars were beginning to congest the area. Hawkers’ stalls have been set up. But the gates to the community centre were locked. There were no police, no RELA and no DBKK officers present. My car could hardly pass through the roads as people were milling around the area. My immediate reaction was the fears of the local residents whose houses were surrounded by the sudden crowd. Some of the strangers were leaning on the fences of the houses.
So, I WhatsApp photos of the crowd to the Police and Kota Kinabalu MP (Chan Foong Hing) who was on his way to KL to attend parliament. According to information available now, the Minister, YBs, DBKK and Police said they were not aware of the now aborted consular services to be provided by the Philippines Embassy staff from Kuala Lumpur.
The people of Sabah deserve the following questions to be answered:
1. How is it that hundreds of foreigners from various districts knew about the Philippines consular services for foreigners but nobody in the government knew?
2. How can such a serious incident like this happen in the first place?
3. Is there a government in Sabah? If so, what are our government leaders so busy with? This large unauthorised gathering happened in the Capital City of Kota Kinabalu right under the noses of our government leaders.
4. Is it not a strict security matter that the Embassy of a foreign country must have the prior approval of the Malaysian and Sabah State authorities before that Embassy is allowed to conduct mass issuance and renewals of passports to their citizens in Sabah?
5. Isn’t DBKK the one which approved the Dewan Luyang to be used. Canvas tents had already been set up within the compound of the centre.
6. What would have happened if some of the foreigners, some of whom are young men, had become violent due to frustration or any reason?
7. Was it not foreseen that the Luyang community centre in a residential area is a most unsuitable place for such a mass gathering of foreigners?
To the best of my knowledge, such an exercise by a foreign embassy in Sabah must have had prior approval by the Malaysian federal government and the Sabah state government beforehand. It is unimaginable that the Mayor, OCPD and other relevant officials are in the dark about such an exercise.
It is like there is no government in Sabah.
Datuk Yong Teck Lee
SAPP President, Ex-Chief Minister of Sabah