Published on: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
It would now be compulsory for them to have an international passport or seaman book from their respective countries before they are allowed to land in Sabah and Labuan.
It is part of measures to beef up control over entry points Statewide and Labuan. "Previously we would issue the Seaman Identification Card to barter trade seamen who have no travel document.
"But by doing so we don't know who these people are, they can be from other countries but claim to be from the Philippines," he said.
"Now we make it strict according to the requirements of international practice that foreigners are required to have travel documents when entering other countries," he said.
He also announced that barter trade crewmen are with immediate effect only allowed to be at entry points in Sabah and Labuan for a maximum seven days with no extension.
Those who have entered Sabah and Labuan are also not allowed to shift to another boat until they return to the Philippines.
"We have made a strict rule on foreigners' entry because they might use these for other activities that might jeopardise the country's security," he said.
They are not restricting foreigners from entering the country but it must be according to the law and regulations.
In Sabah, there are three ports managing the barter trade, namely Sandakan, Tawau, Kudat and one in the Federal Territory of Labuan.
He said the number of barter traders issued with the Seaman International Card last year was 18,388 and the number of barter trade vessels involved was 1,768.
Alias said barter trade skippers who failed to abide by the new rules would be charged under the Immigration Act 1959/63 Section 55 (A) which carries up to five years prison or up to RM50,000 fine or six strokes of the cane.
He said they can also be charged under the new Immigration Act Anti-Trafficking in Person and Smuggling of Migrants where the penalty is a maximum period of 20 years prison or fine of RM500,000, adding that those found guilty would be blacklisted.
The crew would be charged under Section 6 (1) (c) which provides for up to five-years jail or a fine of up to RM10, 000 or up to six strokes of cane.
To a question, he said, the evacuation centres in Lahad Datu are under the jurisdiction of the security forces.
"We are still waiting for an official statement from them before we can charge any of those taking shelter in the centres under the Immigration Act," he said, adding that stern action would be taken on those found guilty.
"It is our concern, as the frontline in entry points, to ensure the security of the country and the people of Sabah," he said.
He said the Department as part of the Eastern Sabah Security Command's component, has come up with the new regulation after discussion and consent from other agencies under Esscom.
On another development, he said, Esscom covers 10 districts and 55 per cent of the local population are within the Esscom, while 85 per cent are foreigners, adding that approximately 70 per cent within the Esscom are illegals.