Legalise them, urges Harris
Published on: Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh said consideration should be given to legalising all persons in Sabah soon as possible for security reasons so that they will feel at home, abide with the law and live peacefully. The Yayasan Islam Sabah Chairman said in a statement that Sabah also needs these people for economic development in the plantations and construction industries.

Referring to the now aborted census conducted on IMM13 holders in Sabah by the Immigration Department, Harris slammed certain leaders and accused them of trying to reduce the number of Suluks in Sabah.

He said the departments must not stop simply because a few politicians started to make noise. "These departments must carry out Federal Government policies in granting permanent residence and citizenships. The federal government has the power under Malaysian Constitution," he said.

He defended the rights of IMM13 holders to be granted Permanent Residence status in Sabah and citizenship for stateless children, claiming that this had been a government policy since the 70s.

He said it was, and still is, the government's policy to grant permanent residence to war refugees and stateless children, and to welcome and allow all Muslim refugees to Malaysia after which they would also be given citizenship.

"This policy has never been revoked by the successive governments. Therefore it remains in force," he said, adding that it was first announced by the country's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman in the 70s and then reinforced by Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the fifth prime minister, in 2007.

Harris said since it is a valid policy government agencies such as the Immigration Department and the National Registration Department are duty-bound to implement it.

On this basis, he urged the departments to ignore demands from politicians to give an explanation about their duty in relation to the issuance of permanent residence status for IMM13 card holders and stateless children.

Citing Daily Express reports entitled 'PR Status for IMM13 Holders' dated 26 June 2007 and 'These Foreign Kids Can Apply for Citizenship Status' dated 2 August 2007, Harris said these policies have been implemented from time to time.

In the former report, the then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz had said in response to Madius in Parliament that Filipino refugees holding the IMM13 document in Sabah would eventually be given permanent residence status.

He had said it was part of the long-term plan of the Government that in the end Filipino refugees holding genuine IMM13 documents would become permanent residents in the country.

Harris lauded the Pakatan Harapan government for being active in trying to solve the issue of stateless persons and stateless children in the country.

"The immigration and National Registration Departments are implementing the policies of the Federal Government, which were agreed to and supported by Sabah representatives at parliament and cabinet levels," he said.

Immigration Director-General Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali had reportedly said the department was trying to gather data on the real number of refugees' children in the state to ensure their rights to education and health were upheld in accordance to international law.

He made the clarification after videos surfaced showing hundreds, if not thousands, of IMM13 holders rushing to either renew their passes or filing new registration for their children.

The videos caused the public to feel uneasy with few leaders questioning the motive of the exercise.

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau had asked the department to disclose who had instructed them to do so.

He had said that to his knowledge the matter was never discussed by the state cabinet.

He also noted that the renewal of IMM13 documents in Sabah was supposed to have been stopped in 2013.


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