Criticism won’t solve the illegals issue, says Shafie
Published on: Friday, October 04, 2019
By: Sherell Jeffrey
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KOTA KINABALU: Indulging in talk and criticism without providing any real solution to address the undocumented immigrant issue in Sabah is not the way forward, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

Commenting on an online petition against the Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) plan which gathered 3,809 signatures at press time, he said: 

“First, this is under the Home Affairs Ministry, and although it was chaired by me and the Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, it received negative views even before efforts were done,” said Shafie. 

He said that at least the government now is doing something to address this (undocumented immigrants) unlike the previous administration where all they did was talk instead of actually taking efforts to resolve the matter. 

He said efforts are to ensure undocumented immigrants are registered to know who and where they are, in addition to monitoring them.  He said this will also help the State, citing rapid tourism development in Sabah, where just weeks ago they launched the property development with hotels and resorts coming up. 

“In Kalimantan, for example, development is done within a short period of time, like their highway is built with cement not asphalt, they can realise development in just a short period.

“The governor told me that they can build their administration centre by 2024, and we realise and know there is a huge possibility that many Indonesians currently in Sabah will go back, while here we are with problems in finding workers.

“We are having problems in plantation and construction sectors, which is why just listening to comments from quarters that don’t play a role in helping to resolve the matter doesn’t do any good for the country,” he said. 

He said what the government is doing now is for the good of the country not only the context of needs in terms of development but also in terms of security.

“This is why we need to know these people (undocumented immigrants), we need to know where they are and who they are, we cannot just let it go like that, and they can be hiding anywhere if we don’t manage this properly,” he said.

He said the current government can be just like the previous government who choose to let it be without making efforts to resolve it. 

“But finding no solution despite knowing there is a problem is not the way forward. Thus, for us, we are leading the State, we took charge as the administrator of this State we need to play a role in resolving the matter instead of hurling issues on social media without a solution. 

On the petition calling for undocumented immigrants to be deported instead of being given the PSS, he said, there are a lot of complications and it is not as easy as that. 

He said some of these people are intertwined with marriage, they have local wives or even local husbands, and it is not easy as easy as deporting. 

“There are stateless children who are abandoned by their parents, I cannot go punishing these innocent children because of their parents who abandoned them, thus the complexity. 

“As humans with compassion, we must have efforts to solve this,” he said. 

He reiterated that every year Sabah deports undocumented immigrants, adding that it is of course an ongoing process.

“I have informed that when we deport, we make sure they don’t return, and if they do return, it must be on a valid passport, they can come to Malaysia, they can come to Sabah, we can grant them work permit, but they must have proper documents,” he said. 

He said nevertheless, there is bound to be complex issues when it involves children of mixed marriage between locals and non-locals. 

“We don’t want to separate husbands and wives, that is why we need to know the numbers of people attached to marriage with local Malaysians, but we don’t have this data. The data is with the Home Ministry, we in the State Government only assist them address this issue,” he said. 

He again pointed out that the State Government has no power to issue passports or MyKads, and that it is under the Federal Government and the State Government only assists. 

In September this year, the Federal and State governments resolved to introduce the PSS to eligible foreigners holding various documents in the State as a means towards resolving the longstanding illegal immigrant problem.

Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin said the pass would be implemented by the Sabah Immigration Department starting June 1, 2020.


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