KOTA KINABALU, Dec 22 ― Sabah deputy chief minister II Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said today he wants the state to exercise its immigration powers and kick out “troublemakers” that were sent here under the repelled Restricted Residence Act 1933 and Banishment Act 1959.
Following a drunken brawl that resulted in the death of a local man in the district of Beaufort last Friday, Kitingan said the Sabah government has the power to kick out individuals which it deems a threat.
“The problem with the system is, these criminals are allowed to stay in peaceful districts and would then turn these districts into their new ‘headquarters’ to carry on doing their criminal activities because they still have their connections with their old gang,” he said.
He said even though the Acts were abolished in 2011, any orders, warrants, directives and arrests issued under them were not affected.
“So those people who were sent here before the acts were abolished are still here.
“Since Sabah has its own immigration powers, the chief minister can kick these people out of Sabah,” said the Dayak International Organisation president.
He said the state government would not hesitate to kick out any troublemakers.
Kitingan’s statement comes following a fight in the town of Beaufort in the west coast of Sabah between several men which ended up with victim Albert Requel Agan, dying from injuries caused by a machete.
Another man also suffered injury after he was allegedly hit on the head with a belt buckle.
The brawl started in a restaurant when a group of five men came from a wedding event nearby, already in an inebriated state. The owner of the restaurant refused to sell them more alcohol and eventually a brawl broke out between the men, who brought more friends over, and the restaurant owner.
“I have contacted the state police chief who told me the whole incident was caught on the shop’s CCTV. The police are doing their best to track down the two suspects and will leave no stone unturned,” he said.
He added those suspected of protecting the perpetrator would be investigated too, following allegations that some individuals in position of power had protected the suspects, allowing them to skip town to evade police arrest.
Sabah commissioner of police Datuk Hazani Ghazali today issued a statement saying that police were still searching for two suspects in the case, convicted criminals Hobalan N. Vello, 37, also known as ‘Jimmy Black’ and Kesavan Perambalam, 34.
Hobalan has seven previous criminal records between 2003 and 2004, and was involved in the secret society group Gang 24 in Klang, Selangor. He also spent a year in jail in 2007 under the Emergency (Public Order and Crime Prevention) Ordinance (2007).
The other suspect, Kesavan, had eight previous criminal records for various misdemeanours.
Hazani said that Hobalan was no longer under police supervision since 2008, having settled down with a Dusun wife from Keningau, with five children.
“He has not had any record of criminal activity since 2008,” said Hazani.
The case is being investigated under Section 148 and Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder, and possession of weapons at a riot.
Hazani said that the men had admitted to being drunk and started the brawl, looking for Hobalan at the time. He denied there was any element of gangsterism involved and that the police were biased in the investigation of the case.
“There are no elements of organised gangsterism, or racism in the investigation of this case. This is a group of mischievous and aggressive youngsters acting out when drunk,” he said, adding that police were out looking for the two suspects.
Under the two Acts, police have been sending convicted criminals who have served their time, or suspected criminals, to rural towns in Sabah for “rehabilitation”. The practice has been ongoing since as far back as the 1970s and is often done discreetly.
The suspects, or former criminals, have to report to the nearest police station from time to time for a certain period.
In 2011, the Parliament abolished both Acts.
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