Unlikely Shafie not aware of ‘massive’ IMM13 exercise, says Jeffrey

The crowd waiting to enter the Immigration Department office in Kota Kinabalu earlier this week. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal’s claim that he was “unaware” of the reissuance of IMM13 documents is an “unlikely story”, says state opposition leader Jeffrey Kitingan.

Jeffrey, who is the Keningau MP, said as the head of the State Security Council, Shafie would have been briefed on such a major exercise.

“It seems that Shafie is making the federal Immigration Department a scapegoat by conveniently pushing the blame on them.

“Does the Immigration Department not recognise the significance of his role as the head of the State Security Council?” Jeffrey said in a statement, adding that the department should know its responsibilities.

He said if Shafie’s claim that he was unaware of the exercise was true, then the state and federal heads of the Immigration Department, Musa Sulaiman and Mustafar Ali, should resign as their actions have created distrust between the state and federal governments.

“Secondly, why is Azis Jamman, who is the deputy home minister and Warisan Youth chief, not aware of this exercise? After all, the Immigration Department comes under his ministry.”

Jeffrey said if Azis also claimed to be unaware of the IMM13 exercise, then he too should resign.

“It is high time that the relevant authorities come clean on a matter that involves the security of the people,” said Jeffrey, who is STAR president.

FMT’s attempts to seek comments from Azis and Mustafar were unsuccessful.

Jeffrey said that by convention, the department should never carry out such a massive exercise involving illegal immigrants without consulting the state government.

He also questioned why the issuance of the IMM13 documents, which were stopped in 2013 due to abuse, was suddenly revived and supposedly without the state government’s knowledge.

“The justification that the reissuance of the IMM13 documents was for the children of refugees also does not hold water,” he said, given that the war in southern Philippines was long over.

The IMM13 documents were originally issued to refugees from southern Philippines who fled the war there.

Jeffrey said the public outcry against the reissuance of the IMM13 documents, which subsequently forced the exercise to be called off, showed that Sabahans felt the exercise was a threat to the state’s security and could possibly undermine the nation’s sovereignty.

He added that Sabahans are beginning to feel “uneasy” with the actions of the Warisan-led Sabah government, just six months into their rule.