Sabah Govt plans to set up refugee relocation island — Mohd Shafie

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KOTA KINABALU (April 17): The Sabah Government is planning to set up a relocation centre for conflict refugees on a remote island located far from the mainland.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said if the refugees were from Philippines then refugees attempting to enter the State would be placed in an island located at the border between the two countries.

“As we know in the 1970s, the United Nations (UN) also carried out a similar role when the Simunuls from the Philippines were relocated to an area known as United Nations Gazette Area.

“So we have to learn from the previous experience...as such the Government is proposing to have settlement on an island quite far from Sabah mainland and they can live in the area. Nonetheless we cannot bring them into the State,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after launching a new species of grouper fish at the State Legislative Assembly here today.

Commenting further, Mohd Shafie said efforts to create the refugees settlement was aimed at overcoming the problem due to conflicts in neighbouring countries.

“This is also one of our humanitarian approaches as we have the grounds to save humans...as we will not allow them to survive in the sea,” he said.

According to him, the refugee relocation settlement proposed is the same as the refugee relocation settlement in Pulau Bidong, Terengganu.

Meanwhile commenting on the new species of grouper, Mohd Shafie said it was a species created through cloning from several grouper species.

“I understand the new species named Echo Grouper was successfully produced after three to five years as there were many factors involved in cloning the new species of fish.   

“We hope the findings will help to improve the breeding of grouper by fishermen,” he said.