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Illegals: Political will approach
Published on: Monday, October 03, 2022
By: Sherell Jeffrey
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Hajiji (left) hands over the grant to organisation representatives while Hamzah looks on.
Hajiji (left) hands over the grant to organisation representatives while Hamzah looks on.
Kota Kinabalu: The Home Affairs Ministry has decided on a political will approach in tackling undocumented immigrant issues in Sabah. 

Its Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said rather than imposing his own ideas, their approach now is different. 

“I have already asked the State Government to sit down with politicians from all parties in this country, especially in Sabah, and come to a decision on which way to go,” he told a media conference after his Townhall session in conjunction with the Ministry’s “Kita Demi Negara” roadshow at the Kota Kinabalu Sports Complex, Sunday. 

“I do not want to come out with my own strategy when they themselves do not want to accept, so the only way is for them to come up with a strategy and tell me, and from there we will do it together,” he said. 

He said the State Government as well as the security enforcement are both responsible for maintaining security.

“The State Government will sit down with us to make sure that what we want to do does not violate the constitution and the law. God willing, we will be together in order for us to manage Sabah to reduce the numbers of those undocumented in this country,” he said. 

He said helping the undocumented immigrants does not mean they will become citizens.

“If we want to help them, it is not necessary for them to be citizens, no way. I don’t want people to feel that when they come to Malaysia they can easily be taken as citizens of this country, no way. They are citizens of the world, so as citizens of the world, we should give them an identity, but that doesn’t mean that they have to be Malaysians, just that they have to be given documents,” he said. 

“That way, they can help our country build towards becoming a peaceful, more developed country in the future,” he added. 

He noted that the State Government has already moved forward in his matter, while noting that they had had a few rounds of discussions. 

“The State Government has already decided and I have given them the blessing. I had a very good discussion two nights ago with the State Government and they have briefed me about the proof of concept in the data collection system. 

“Once they are fine with it, we will start to launch it together,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the issue of illegal immigrants (PTIs) that has plagued Sabah for decades will be completely resolved through a digital database of their actual number, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Haji Noor.

He said data would be collected on all immigrants to ensure they have valid documents to live and work in this state.

The next phase after completing the digital data collection is to focus on the standardisation of documents to ensure that everyone in Sabah is documented regularly.

“If we find that the foreigner in question is an illegal immigrant then we will enforce existing laws.

“This action has already been discussed and supported by Hamzah,” he said.

Hajiji stressed that the State Government does not hesitate to intensify security in this state, especially with Sabah bordering several countries.

Therefore, he said, the aspect of border control is to be given priority considering most of the security threats in the state of Sabah comes from abroad.

He said the move to place control posts of the General Operations Force (PGA) in strategic areas of Sabah’s interiors is the right step to the influx and external threats especially when Indonesia intends to shift capital to Kalimantan.

According to him, KDN’s efforts to implement the initiative is of issuing immigration documents and registration at the Immigration control and Pagalungan Immigration control post.

A pilot project in Nabawan makes it easier for Pagalungan residents to get services other than from the Malaysian Immigration Department but also from the National Registration Department.

“With an initiative like this, local residents can obtain border passes easily,” he stressed.

Hajiji said, Sabah as the second largest state in Malaysia, with long coastlines and more than 40 islands, is particularly vulnerable to various security threats.

He said security issues related to immigrants are those such as invasion of foreign fishing boats, international border control and citizenship or undocumented people.

“I sincerely hope these issues can be dealt with in the best possible way by Federal. The State Government will give full cooperation for ensure that the security and sovereignty of the state of Sabah remains preserved.

“The State Government supports all KDN efforts, especially in the security aspect and order for Sabah. 

“This includes all improvement to infrastructure, security assets and enforcement agencies to ensure the level operability and readiness at the highest level,” he stressed.

Hajiji said the responsibility of maintaining safety does not rest only on the shoulders of the Federal Government alone, but requires solid cooperation from all parties at federal and state levels.

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