KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — Federal Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Mustapha Sakmud today chided students from Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) for roping in non-citizens in their recent rally about state issues.

The Sepanggar MP said he was surprised to learn that certain UMS student representatives had involved “stateless individuals” to shore up its numbers during a protest last Friday about water woes in the Sabah capital, Sinar Harian reported.

“For me, this should not have happened by involving non-citizens in the people’s struggles of Sabah,” he was quoted as saying after attending a Kaamatan celebration in Kota Kinabalu.

He said his ministry was not against university students holding a demonstration as long as they complied with procedures.

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“From the beginning, I said get a permit and demonstrate peacefully and rationally, but what they did, they brought non-citizens to increase the numbers, and this should not have happened.

“I am quite upset that this was done, and I ask that non-citizens not be brought into issues involving our rights and responsibilities as citizens of Sabah.

“I clearly reject any attempt by any group, whether non-governmental organisations (NGOs) or any political party, to use non-citizens in their struggle,” he was quoted as saying.

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Earlier, Sinar Harian reported that police had arrested nine undocumented people for participating in the #KamiMahuAir Sabah assembly organised by a group of students from UMS.