Govt to issue special pass to documented foreigners in Sabah

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (sitting, centre) and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (right) at the press conference.

KOTA KINABALU: The government will be issuing a new special pass for documented foreigners in Sabah called Pas Sementara Sabah (Sabah Temporary Pass) to streamline the monitoring and enforcement process.

Speaking to reporters after chairing the Committee on the Management of Foreign Nationals in Sabah (JKPWS) here today, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said currently, enforcement bodies such as the Immigration Department are having difficulties in enforcing the law because of the various types of documents held by foreigners in Sabah.

These identification documents include the IMM13 issued to refugees, “kad burung-burung” issued by the Chief Minister’s Department and the census certificate.

“It is difficult to determine whether these documents were issued legally sometimes.

“Therefore, at the meeting today, we decided to issue the Sabah Temporary Pass to all holders of IMM13, ‘kad burung-burung’ and census certificates.

“The project will be implemented starting June 1 next year. From today, we will establish the steps needed to carry out the programme. The state government will form a special body to handle this.

“The three types of documents will be withdrawn and the holders will be issued with the new special pass,” he said.

According to Muhyiddin, the pass is a smart card with special security features, including biometrics, photo of the holder and fingerprints.

Each of the cards will cost RM120 and it is renewable every three years.

Muhyiddin said this is far cheaper than other forms of documents currently in circulation.

Currently, it is estimated about 600,000 people are carrying the three types of documents, out of about 1.1 million foreigners residing in Sabah.

Commenting on what would happen to these pass holders in the future, many of whom are staying in Sabah for some time, Muhyiddin said it is too early to tell because several issues need to be considered, such as the Immigration Act, the Federal Constitution, and the National Registration Act.

“The decision on what to do with these people will be made sometime in the future,” he said.

He warned that possessing the temporary pass does not mean the holder can do whatever he or she wants as they will be subjected to the laws of the land.

He said the relevant departments will have the right to evaluate and decide whether to renew the pass after three years, having considered the track record of the holders.

As for the remaining 500,000 foreigners, Muhyiddin said many of them had entered Sabah using their passports and were working in various industries, including the plantations.

Since 1990, he said the government had sent 586,367 illegal immigrants back to their respective countries. This year alone, 8,343 individuals were deported.