Recently, Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman denied that the crackdown against illegal migrant workers (Ops Tegas) had been stopped in Sabah.
The statement by the chief minister is somewhat of a relief but there is a growing cynicism about the whole operation. The people of Sabah have had enough of explanations, excuses and unjustified rationalisation as to why the problem of illegal migrants cannot be solved once and for all.
Random surveys indicate that these foreigners in Sabah do not really bother about any impending crackdown - despite all the hypes and hyperboles - because of previous failed or aborted operations. All they say is that they will hide in the jungles until the operation is over.
This is a sad situation - the authorities' words have now lost the connotation of power and authority. They are no longer feared nor respected.
Sabahan lives have already been lost to vicious crimes because of these often aborted plans to deport illegal migrant workers.
It has been reported that citizens of our neighbouring country have been staging anti-Malaysia demonstrations and burning our flags purportedly in opposition to Petronas' awarding a concession to Shell for oil exploration in the Sulawesi Sea.
These demonstrations could just be a ploy to divert our attention from addressing the problems perpetrated by their nationals in our country. There is a looming danger that the tens of thousands of their citizens in Malaysia might duplicate their actions here.
For the hundreds of thousands of them who have acquired Malaysian identity documents, the government must cancel these documents forthwith. No questions asked.
The government should handle 'Ops Tegas' the way it handled the Sars outbreak - transparently and efficiently. At least there should be weekly announcements on the progress of the exercise in terms of how many have been apprehended.
The general public perception is that there are hundreds of thousands of foreigners in Sabah. If 'Ops Tegas' could only arrest 10 or 20 a day, it would take decades to rid the state of this problem.
And if there is a fresh influx of illegals, we may not be able to resolve this problem at all which will in turn result in the people losing trust in the government. Therefore, the present 'Ops Tegas' cannot afford to fail.
All parties should be directed to solve this problem lest the little trust of the people have in the government evaporate in no time.