Why the clashing statements on IMM13, asks Sabah opposition leader

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PETALING JAYA: A Sabah MP is demanding answers on the controversial IMM13 issue, saying Immigration Department director-general Mustafar Ali’s remarks on the matter raise more questions than answers.

Speaking to FMT, Keningau MP Jeffrey Kitingan said the Sabah government and the Immigration Department should not sweep the issue under the carpet with “half-baked” answers.

Kitingan said he was unsatisfied with Mustafar’s explanation that the department was merely conducting a census on the number of children belonging to IMM13 refugee card holders in Sabah and not carrying out new registrations.

This, he said, clearly contradicted Sabah Immigration director Musa Sulaiman’s earlier remarks that the department had started accepting new applications for IMM13 from children of other IMM13 holders since Oct 1.

Kitingan questioned how the two top government officials could provide such contradictory statements.

“If it really was a census exercise, why stop it after the public uproar? If everything is above board, the department should just say so and continue with the so-called census.”

Kitingan also asked why it took so long for the department to clarify the supposed “real nature” of the exercise.

Jeffrey Kitingan.

“I also find it strange that the IMM13 holders want to willingly take part in a census exercise. What is their motive to throng the Immigration Department’s office?”

He added that since Musa had said new applications for IMM13 were being accepted, the department should reveal how many IMM13 applications were received.

“If the department says none, are they then implying that Musa was lying or incompetent to the point that he doesn’t know the difference between reissuing documents and carrying out a census?

“Please tell the people of Sabah because they deserve to know,” said Kitingan who is STAR president.

He also called on the department to update the public on the number of IMM13 cards issued to date.

Kitingan, who is Sabah opposition leader, previously said it was unlikely that Shafie Apdal was “unaware” of the re-issuance of IMM13 documents as the chief minister was the head of the State Security Council and would have been briefed on such a major exercise.

IMM13 is a visitors’ pass issued by the Immigration Department to Filipino refugees who escaped to Sabah following unrest in the southern Philippines in the early 1970s.

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.