Activist:  Review continual residence of “Buang Negeri” criminals in Sarawak, Sabah

Peter John Jaban

KUCHING, Dec 28:  A Sarawakian activist is calling for a review of the continual residence of “Restricted Residence” or “Buang Negeri” criminals who were “dumped” in the rural areas of Sarawak and Sabah when the policy was still effective.

Activist Peter John Jaban made the call following the recent death of a Sabahan native in a brawl in Beaufort last week.

He claimed that the suspect in the case was sent to Sabah as part of the Restricted Residence or Buang Negeri policy operated by the police at that time but had since married and settled into the area. 

This case, said Peter John, had exposed the dangers of sending such career criminals into peaceful, rural areas which are ill-equipped, either in policing or in the local populace, to deal with the issues that might arise from their residence there. 

He thus called for a review by Bukit Aman into their (the criminals) continual residence in the Borneo States, in collaboration with the respective governments of Sarawak and Sabah which each retains immigration autonomy to deport anyone found to be causing problems.

“This policy was a disaster from the beginning. Hardened criminals were sent into rural communities where many of them simply set up shop again. Instead of containing the problems of gangsterism, smuggling and drugs, it served to spread it around the country into areas where the local population were used to a simpler way of life.

“Now that the policy has been abandoned, it seems that the authorities have washed their hands of it.

“This is doing untold damage to the reputation of the police and their relationship with local community members. Activists across Sabah and Sarawak are receiving numerous reports of increasing drug use and gangsterism in rural communities, especially among the youth,”  Peter John claimed in a statement today.

He said in most of these cases, the ‘Buang Negeri or Buang Dearah’ orders were made discreetly so local residents are not even aware of the potentially dangerous criminals who have been forcibly relocated to their areas. 

“This is a complete abdication of responsibility on the part of the police not to continue in their supervision of these cases.

“Therefore, a review of their continuing residence and current activities is needed by members of the police who are experienced in this kind of case,” said Peter John.

He believed that police officers in rural areas have neither the training nor the experience to deal with this kind of criminal. 

“Urban areas have specialised units. By sending these people into the Borneo States, the police in the cities might think they have solved their own problem, but they have simply shipped it into another area in many cases. 

“These are the kinds of people who destroy the future of our youths by influencing them into a life of gangsterism and crime and who can take advantage of the of the local populace, so far untainted by the cynicism which often accompanies city life. The specialised units in the police must therefore take back their responsibilities and assist their rural colleagues through this review,” claimed Peter John.

He said there are many West Malaysians who have settled peacefully in rural areas of the Borneo States. Following this case, these good people might now potentially face undeserved suspicion from the local population. 

“We welcome people who want to build peaceful lives in Sabah and Sarawak and contribute to the State, but the police must take up the responsibility of ensuring community lifestyles, especially when it is their own policy that has placed potential threats at the heart of these once peaceful areas. 

“Community policing must continue but specialised action must be taken now against specialised crime to protect the rights of indigenous peoples to their traditional way of life,” said Peter John.

On the Beaufort case, Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali was quoted by New Straits Times (NST) saying that the suspect may have fled to Sarawak to evade capture.

Hazani said the suspect, who is from Peninsular Malaysia has seven criminal cases in Selangor linked to him between 2003 to 2004. The suspect spent a year in jail in 2007 but was released from police supervision in 2008 and has had no criminal cases against him since then.

According to NST, he is married to a woman from Keningau and has five children.

The case, according to Hazani, happened at a restaurant in Beaufort.  A Murut man, Albert Requel Agang, was slashed to death with a parang while another injured following a brawl in the restaurant. — DayakDaily