KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau today called on the Immigration Department to clear the air on the registration of new IMM13 refugee cards in the state.
He was responding to the department’s announcement on Saturday that all new registrations would be suspended just two weeks after operations began on Oct 1.
The department said the suspension was for the new registration of children as IMM13 holders throughout Sabah and Labuan but did not elaborate.
“We want to know, who instructed Sabah Immigration to do so?” Tangau said.
“As far as I know, the Sabah Cabinet has never discussed the matter. In fact, the renewal of IMM13 documents in Sabah was supposed to have been stopped in 2013.
“Most of us recognise that the problem of illegal immigrants has been a bane to Sabah and Sabahans for as long as we can remember, and their arrivals have brought with them a lot of speculation.
“So why is the Immigration Department renewing and legitimising their stay now? Whose instructions and prerogative is this?” he said in a statement.
The matter surfaced after videos showing hundreds of IMM13 holders rushing to renew their passes or applying for new ones for their children went viral on social media. This prompted a backlash from opposition leaders who said the passes should no longer be used as there was no more war in southern Philippines.
Tangau, who was officially elected as Upko president in the party’s triennial delegates convention yesterday, said Upko remained steadfast in its stand that there must be no more renewal of IMM13 documents to “Filipino refugees” in Sabah.
“In fact, we have been pushing for the recall of Sabah ICs for a long time,” he added.
“IMM13 is a timely reminder for Sabahans to seek full restoration of autonomous immigration rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963.”