Illegal Filipinos in Sabah were seen as security threats—WikiLeaks
MANILA, Philippines—Filipino illegal migrants in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah were perceived as “especially troublesome” and a “potential security threat if they decide to become more politically active, or if parts of Mindanao become more autonomous,” said a confidential 2006 memo from the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks.
The Oct. 17, 2006, memo was issued by David Shear, then deputy chief of mission of the US embassy in the Malaysian capital, and addressed to, among others, the US Department of State.
The document quoted Masidi Manjun, Sabah’s minister of youth and sports, as having complained that the state was “flooded with foreigners,” estimated at over 750,000 in 2006.
“He singled out Filipino Muslims from Mindanao as especially troublesome. He (also) said, they are not as devout as us,” disclosed Shear, who is currently the US envoy to Vietnam.
Manjun also told the US embassy that Sabah’s “Filipinos were using our social services and not integrating into society” and that “vagrancy and violence were rampant within Sabah’s Filipino community.”
“He called Sabah’s maritime and land borders very porous and expressed concern that Sabah’s foreign residents were starting to become politically active. He acknowledged, however, the economic importance of Sabah’s foreign population,” said Shear.
Shear also quoted Manjun as having said, “We need (Filipinos and other Southeast Asian illegal immigrants) here, or our economy would collapse.”
“Filipinos and Indonesians move easily and often illegally between Sabah and their respective home countries …,” he added.
The memo also said that Simon Sipaun, resident commissioner and vice chairman of the Suhakam, Malaysia’s human rights body, had “felt the large number of Filipinos on the state’s east coast represented a potential security threat if they decide to become more politically active, or if parts of Mindanao become more autonomous.”
Shear also reported what Mohd Bakri Zinin, Sabah’s acting police commissioner, “told us on Oct. 4, 2006, that illegal migrants and other foreigners account for about three-fourths of violent crimes committed in the state.”
“He said almost all the crimes were locally based and that transnational crimes syndicates were not much of a problem in Sabah. Zinin notably did not address the issue of terrorists either located in or transiting Sabah. When asked about the potential for human trafficking into the Malaysian federal territory-island of Labuan, near Sabah’s western coast, Zinin flatly said there was no trafficking problem in Labuan,” said the US diplomat.
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