Published on: Sunday, March 17, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Two new Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complexes will be set up in Kudat and Lahad Datu along with an immigration post in Banggi island within a month.
To encourage proper entry, discussions would be held with the Philippines side to allow the use of border passes.
It is all part of the Immigration Department's plan under the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) to facilitate proper entry of foreigners.
Immigration Director-General Dato' Alias Haji Ahmad said he proposed the setting up of the new CIQ in Lahad Datu given its status as a "hot area" and that the new facility should be at Felda Sahabat.
To date, there are three CIQs in Sabah - in Semporna, Sandakan and Tawau. Alias said based on 2010 statistics, out of a population of 3.2 million in Sabah, 58 per cent or 1.8 million resided in East Coast areas which is within the Esscom corridor.
"Eighty per cent of the legal immigrants who hold PR, IMM13 and so on, are residing in the Esscom corridor," he said at the Immigration Department's monthly assembly and excellence service awards at the Federal Administrative Complex, here, Saturday.
"I suspect that 35 per cent of these foreigners (along Esscom corridor) are Filipinos," he said. Alias is confident the new CIQ complexes and the post would be set up within one month with temporary cabins in Kudat and Banggi.
"In Lahad Datu, we will either refurbish or renovate the present warehouse next to the Immigration Office or use a cabin. "The cost of setting up of the facilities is less than RM1 million including the special allocation for Esscom, he said.
Alias said as a civilian department under the Esscom, the Immigration Department had planned several new strategies to be implemented in the Esscom area namely to provide facility and border control.
"These two tasks are our plans for Esscom.
"To safeguard our country, we must facilitate foreigners who come with proper documents, we are not preventing people from coming, we are a democratic country, and our tourism industry is a part of the nation's contribution to the nation.
"So apart from our duty to facilitate the foreigners, we at the same time are to safeguard our border apart from monitoring the entry and exit points.
"We will create an official gateway to enable entry because previously we found out that many foreigners entered our country through illegal gateway such as 'lubang tikus' as we had no facility.
"So now we encourage proper entry with proper documents whether by passport or border pass."
Alias also said that they will have discussions with the Philippines government so that their people could use border passes.
"We will decide later as to how far border pass holders can enter with this document, " he said.
Alias said apart from that, three new immigration posts would also be set up at identified locations including at Banggi island, which will be set up at Sarakit while the other two will be at Beluran and Sukau.
Alias further announced that they had suggested to the government to set up three new immigration offices at Cenderawasih, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Kota Kinabatangan to process passports, work passes, visas or passes for foreigners as well as for enforcement.
He also said that they would post immigration enforcement personnel at the Esscom corridor on a larger scale within one month.
Earlier, Sabah Immigration Department Director Datuk Haji Mohammad Mentek said that hard work and commitment by all officers helped increase the department's revenue in 2012, namely RM202,131,600.21, an increase of 14.04 per cent compared to 2011 when it earned RM177,244,679.26.
The highest revenue came from levy - RM134,012,945 with the highest increase from fines (108.61 per cent) and various others (661.8 per cent).
"With last year's allocation, the department managed to increase the enforcement performance with 851 Immigration Ops compared to 2011 (571).
"A total of 15,595 people were screened, 6,117 people were arrested and 37 employers were detained, 14 of whom have been charged in court.
"With the additional operations, it has contributed to the collection of fines and penalties totaling RM3,348,023, he said.