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Stateless foreigners headache
Published on: Saturday, November 17, 2018
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Stateless foreigners headache
Kota Kinabalu: Deputy Home Minister Datuk Azis Jamman (pic) said the State is looking for a solution on what to do with the close to half a million stateless foreigners now in Sabah as the situation cannot go on."We have to move forward," he said when met by reporters at a dialogue between elected representatives, officials of the judiciary, senior immigration and National Registration Department officials at a hotel in Kota Kinabalu on Friday.

The dialogue was meant to give elected representatives a proper understanding on issues in the State, including stateless persons.

Speaking about the migrant problem which dates back to the 1970s, Azis said the complex issue comes from descendants of Filipino refugees fleeing the civil war then and the children of illegal marriages between Filipino and Indonesian illegal migrants and locals.

He said there were suggestions from some quarters why not these people be sent back as there is no longer any civil war in the Philippines.

"We want to send them back but the problem now is that the Philippines do not want to accept them as they do not recognise them as being their citizens. So we are stuck with what are we to do with these people. This is our problem.

"If the Philippine government is not accepting the IMM13 document holders as their citizens what more the document-less children of these people.

"So if you ask me what to do with these people, I also don't know (what to say)."

Citing the Rohingya who fled Myanmar, he said there is support (from some quarters there) for the federal government to provide them (Rohingya) with IMM13-style documents.

Azis said he had already stated his stand about the Rohingya in a previous meeting, where he said Sabah was also facing a lot of problems from issuing IMM13 documents to Filipino refugees.

"They (federal government) should learn from our mistake. I said to them the moment you give them [Rohingya] IMM13-style documents, they will be there forever. Because this is what happened in Sabah.

"That is why I have said for Sabah if it were possible we don't want to accept even one Rohingya because we already have this big headache of having Filipino IMM13 document holders that have been in Sabah for so many years.

"So 'No' means 'No' because we have learned already from our mistake of accepting (and providing IMM13 documents to) Filipino refugees in the State.

"If they want to accept the Rohingya in the Peninsular then by all means let them settle there. Of course, this is my personal opinion on the matter (based on the Sabah experience) that it is better to pressure Myanmar to accept the Rohingya back because the moment you give them IMM13 style documents, then that means they will be here (in Malaysia) forever as what happened to Sabah.

"As far as I know the matter regarding IMM13-style documents for the Rohingya is still in discussion, no decision has been made yet but I have made my stand," he said.

"Sabah NRD Director Datuk Ismail Ahmad, when met, said at present there were about 2,825,897 Sabahans registered with his department comprising about 644,000 Kadazandusun, 477,000 Bajau, 112,000 Murut, 265,000 Chinese and 1.325 million other ethnic and races in the state.

He said these were actual registered Sabahans including PR holders while the Statistics Department census of 3.9 million is based on the number of people in the state.

He did not elaborate whether the difference of some 1 million constitute these foreigners.

"It was recently stated that one out of every three people in Sabah is a foreigner, resulting in some quarters accusing the previous Umno-led Barisan Nasional government of doing a bad job in safeguarding Sabah vis-à-vis the Malaysia Agreement. - Neil Chan

Photo Source: Bernama




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