Hundreds rush to Immigration Dept to renew documents in Sabah

The large crowd waiting to enter the Immigration Department office in Kota Kinabalu.

KOTA KINABALU: Videos showing hundreds of immigrants queuing up in front of the Wisma Dang Bandang building, which houses the Immigration Department’s special unit office, have gone viral on social media.

One of the videos shows the immigrants waiting for the front gates to open. They rush in once they are allowed in.

In another video, an official in the building is seen shouting at the crowd pushing to get inside the building.

A staff member at one of the government departments in the building told FMT the situation had gotten worse since yesterday as more and more people were rushing to get their IMM13 documents renewed, a normal procedure which they have to go through every year.

IMM13 is a visit pass issued by the Immigration Department to Filipino refugees who entered Sabah between 1972 and 1984.

The children of these refugees are also eligible to apply for these document to allow them to stay with their parents.

IMM13 holders are allowed to stay in Sabah and Labuan and work without having to apply for a work pass. They are also allowed to go to school and get medical services from the government.

Sabah Immigration Department director Musa Sulaiman, who acknowledged the situation today, said the situation was due to the sudden increase in the number of IMM13 holders who wanted the same document for their children.

“On Oct 1, we had started accepting new IMM13 applications for children of existing IMM13 who have birth certificates.

“New issuance of IMM13 for children of refugees had been suspended in 2013 but now we are resuming it,” he said.

He admitted that the videos may have brought lots of negative views and advised the public not to speculate as this could cause confusion among the people.

He said the department will work hard to ensure the situation is under control at all times.

Musa also confirmed that the department had not imposed any deadline to apply for these documents.

On social media, the videos received hundreds of negative remarks, including warnings from some commenters that the decision to resume the issuance of IMM13 is the first step towards awarding the immigrants citizenship.