Published on: Saturday, April 26, 2014
Kota Kinabalu: While the latest proposal to tighten security screening at entry points is laudable, it will not solve Sabah's longstanding problem of illegal immigrants entering the State through the back door.
PKR Api-Api Assemblywoman Christina Liew said this in response to Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar's statement that visitors entering the country would be screened more thoroughly in two stages - at the visa application level and when purchasing tickets.
"These strict checks will be among the steps taken to screen all visitors entering and leaving the country to identify those who misuse passports in any way," Wan Junaidi told the Dewan Negara on Wednesday.
Liew, who is Sabah PKR Deputy Chairperson, said while the idea may be workable for visitors arriving by flight, it would not resolve the perennial problem of illegal entry by boat from neighbouring countries.
"For instance, it is public knowledge that many from the Southern Philippines come by sea and enter the State with genuine travel documents through Sandakan by ferry, among others.
"However, once inside the State, they discard their passports in their attempts to acquire Malaysian citizenship by securing (by hook or by crook) identification documents which are either fake or genuine.
Once here, their country also refuses to accept them if they are arrested on grounds that they have no documents to prove that they are Filipinos.
"Besides, their embassy staff also drag their feet in giving them documents by coming over only once in a while, probably hoping that the illegals would gradually outnumber the locals.
"This is what was and is still happening in Sabah based on revelations in the Royal Commission of Hearing (RCI) hearing held last year," she pointed out.
Liew said testimonies were heard from people concerned about how they could easily obtain identity cards (ICs) or MyKads within a short period of their entry, legal or otherwise.
Hence, she said, where Sabah is concerned the Government must come up with a better system.