Uploaded on Nov 25, 2011
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, is a calm and vibrant city, layered with a multi-faceted society with endless greenery and mountains as the backdrop. A walk on of its streets will showcase thousands of people with different look, complexion, color and creed, presumably of different ethnicities. The state itself is a habitat for more than 2.5million people.
The unofficial breakdown of the population shows almost a quarter is accounted as undocumented illegal immigrants. The influx of Filipinos especially started way before the formation of Malaysia and heightened in 1970's during the Mindanao conflict.
The social trauma the city has been enduring throughout the years is enormous as the people arriving endlessly and not undocumented, leaving them with no hope to stay legally. Many of them resort to odd jobs, petty trading and some plunge into crime.
As night falls, under the neon lights, Kota Kinabalu transforms. As the shop shuts their doors, the streets are being taken over by many young stateless children. Thousands of girls as young as 16, preps themselves up with cosmetics and heels, to entertain clients in Kota Kinabalu's many night clubs.
Almost all of them are undocumented migrants with no formal education; they resort to flesh trade to make ends meet.
As absurd as it seems, these young girls are left without option. For them to work as a dish washer is a huge risk. The job pays RM300 a month or even less and the danger of getting caught and being deported is high.
While some undocumented girls take an easy way out to their cash flow problem, Lyn, 17 has been on a different path in her entire duration she was in Sabah. She arrived in Sabah sometime when she was 4 years old with her parents and siblings from Labuan.
Leading a typical lifestyle destined for every undocumented child in Sabah, with no education, no exposure, no family assistance, she has to struggle to make ends meet for the family of 9. The parents being an odd-job labourer and with only her two brother working as a dish washer in another Chinese restaurant there is nothing much they can look forward to in life.
Without a proper documentation, she lives in a constant fear of authorities. Through the father's acquaintances assistance, she managed to obtain a paper which even she doesn't not have confidence in.
For a teenager such as Lyn there is no way out in life. Just like her, there are few thousand if not more who has been enduring the same misery. Stuck in the middle, unable to move forward. Future for them looks bleak and there's no promise on what hold for them tomorrow.
Nevertheless she works hard, just to lessen the family burden. As for her, she just want to lead normal life assisting the parents and helping the siblings to obtain education.
The unofficial breakdown of the population in Sabah shows that almost a quarter is accounted as undocumented illegal immigrants. The influx of Filipinos especially started way before the formation of Sabah and heightened in 1970's during the Mindanao conflict.
Sabah has long been part of a geo political zone with close connection between Brunei, Philippines and Indonesia. Migration in between these zones is rapid and boundaries established by the colonial powers have no bearing for the moving populace. The close connection between the islands of Mindanao and Sabah pre dates the colonial times.
Despite a major scale regularization programme in 1997, efforts of curbing the illegal migration has been unfruitful with the undocumented immigrants on the rise reaching well over half a million.
Girls in Lyn's age group, most of the time succumb to the society's menace -- prostitution. Looking at it as the easy way out to earn substantial amount money, they get entangled in myriad of problems and syndicate. They serve as the bar girls, masseuse and sometime out right prostitute.
Social worker, Anne Keyworth who has been assisting many undocumented girls acknowledges the issue. Having rescued and resettled undocumented girls in Sabah, Ms. Keyworth feels it's high time for this problem to be seriously solved.
Meanwhile, for Lyn, life goes on. Without any promise of better tomorrow, she walks forward bearing all the risks as an undocumented teenager. Off thousands of girls whom succumbed to the vicious social cycle, Lyn stood steadfastly to live with dignity and honor, with or without, proper documentation as a citizen of human race.
Standard YouTube License