Joni Somudin, an innocent van driver was fatally shot on 30 April 2011 when he refused to help an illegal Filipino immigrant escape after he had robbed RM15,000.00 worth of gold from a goldsmith’s shop in Inanam, Sabah. The tragedy caused a public outcry and renewed calls for the Government to do something about the worsening problem of illegal immigration in Sabah. Daniel John Jambun highlights the exasperation of Sabahans about sovereignty and security, and the political agendas of a few that perpetuate this state of hopelessness. (This article that was first published by the Borneo Post on 8 May 2011)
It is heartening that many parties, mainly PKR, SAPP and PBS, are condemning the wanton killing of Joni Somudin, a young breadwinner from Kudat. His death, hopefully, will at least wake us all up to the reality of violence and the failure of our security forces in reducing violence and threats to public security in the state.
But we need to be also reminded that Joni’s death is just one of a series of deaths from violence perpetrated by immigrants over the years. The only difference with his case is that he died from a gunshot wound, while those before him had been victims of stabbings in cases of small robberies such as for gold chains and petty cash.
If we fail to benefit from his death by taking aggressive actions to correct what is now obviously very wrong in our society, then his death, like all the other robbery-related deaths, will be just in vain. When will we ever learn? Why do we forget things so fast? How many of us till today remember of the case of a poor and peace-loving elderly couple in Menggatal who ended up being murdered and the culprit was never caught? Do we still remember the case of a Chinese towkay whose fenced and highly secured mansion in KK was somehow broken into by a robber and was also murdered?
These are just the highlights. There are thousands of other cases, reported and unreported, of how people’s lives have been devastated by violent crimes committed by immigrants. Sabah is the Wild, Wild East again!
Perhaps some movie makers may think about producing a docu-drama series like Hawaii Five-O in Sabah to portray how we innocent people are exposed to dangers of stabbings, robberies, drug trafficking, prostitution, bombings and shootings in the streets of KK.
I notice that the police have increased their car patrol rounds in the cities and towns, but it is obviously not enough to scare off daylight robbers. The problem is that the police don’t go around much on foot to show their presence in the towns. Even during tamus, we don’t see them walking around to ensure no robberies, mugging or punch-ups, or illegal gamblings take place on the tamu ground.
Even in Menggatal where the police station is built with its back to the town, they don’t walk around the town often enough. One or two cybercafés in Menggatal have become centres for violent and super-aggressive teenagers who smoke and shout as they play online games as if they are at a horse-racing event. And why have the police closed down their police hut in Inanam? Did they think that because there were no serious crimes while they were there, it was safe to leave the town? Didn’t they know that there was little crime because they were there? Now the police hut is rotting which is a sad commentary about the state of security in Inanam. The sorry sight of the dilapidated police hut is also a reason for people to see the police as a failed force.
Now that the population of Menggatal and Inanam have increased many folds since the last few 20 years, it is time for the police to build a permanent police station in this town. Even Telipok with a small population has a police station. No wonder Inanam is infested with smuggled cigarette pedlars who make lots of profit without licenses and without paying income taxes – all thanks to the lack of law enforcement.
I fully support Datuk Henrynus Amin’s clarion call to the Federal Government to hand over the power over immigration to the Sabah Government. Such a step would be a very positive development towards regaining rights which were lost by Sabah since we formed Malaysia. By getting back this power Sabah will then be able to act at its own initiatives to solve Sabah’s mother of all problems, and pave the way for a more peaceful, just and prosperous Sabah. But the state already has its own power to deal with the matter, and just needs to take a firm step to implement it. But it is becoming shockingly unbelievable that the Federal Government can continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, to continue to live in denial over the realities of countless problems arising from illegal immigrants. How long more will the Minister of Home Affairs pretend that there is no problem?
Our sight shouldn’t be limited only to local violence, but we need to be aware of the reality of violence at the global level. The dark minds of terror organisations such as the PLO, Hamas, Fatah, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and others have spread the new ideology that violence, even against innocent civilians, is an acceptable way of life. Somehow, the terror propaganda has instilled in the twisted minds of some people that killing is a sort of glamorous heroism, and crimes are a show for the greatness of some divine powers. The mentality that in order to win they need to commit heinous acts of violence has won many followers and believers. In the case of the Sulu Archipelago, gun ownership has long become a symbol of prestige and power. And when they come here this consciousness about the advantage of being aggressive, and the virtue of killing, comes with them. They think nothing of slashing each other over family jealousies. So, since the 1970’s violence in our streets has become a staple of the daily newspapers.
Joni Somudin’s death, if we look at it from the wider perspective, was part of the whole terror mentality, the consciousness for self-preservation through violence. And interestingly, it is not just common criminals, street hoolingans or robbers who believe in the terror ideology. Even leaders now are showing how much they support terrorists especially after the killing of the world’s greatest murderer, Osama bin Laden. Tun Mahathir has come forward to condemn the killing and the way he was buried at sea, saying it was all uncivilized. He also says the US is the world’s biggest terrorist. It makes us wonder what we Malaysians really want? Even Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadaffi who killed/kills his own people by the thousands are getting support from some of our leaders just because of their dislike of America. And many peace-loving Malaysians, thousands I think (including Jamal Abdillah) have named their children “Osama” and now there are five soccer teams called “Osama”. Now some racist leaders are showing signs of willingness to support riots and violence against their fellow Malaysians.
We, Malaysians seem to be making the biggest noises with regards to Osama’s death. But do we realize that the Arab world is comparatively silent over the whole affair? Do we realize that the Middle East are tired of Al-Qaeda, and that its ideology of senseless killing is no longer supported by Arab countries? Do we realize that the Arab countries who have long been ruled by autocratic regimes are now waking up and demanding Western-styled democracy? How very sad that some of us in Malaysia are taking the steps backward to darkness of the Middle Ages!
Where is the campaign for social harmony, national unity and the five principles of the Rukunegara? It clearly shows how innocent and naïve we are about the reality of terrorism. How many people have to die before we can really be horrified by the thought of the thousands and thousands of innocent people who being killed because of the wave of violence inspired and motivated by Al-Qaeda through its global terror franchise?
How do we change this dangerous perception? Let’s forget about trying to change the way governments think in the West. Let us rather, try to change the way we look at the world and try to go back to basic – to peaceful co-existent, to social harmony, to the spirit of muhibbah, and build a rationale and progressive Malaysia that we once dreamed of. Our leaders need to speak up against terrorism and extremism and not be scared of a few noisy extremists.
Daniel John Jambun is the President of CigMa (Common Interest Group Malaysia), an ad hoc apolitical human rights movement in Sabah.