KOTA KINABALU: A former Sabah deputy chief minister has joined those questioning the government’s decision to issue special passes to foreigners in the state.
Wilfred Bumburing, president of opposition Parti Cinta Sabah, said the plan to issue the Pas Sementara Sabah (Sabah Temporary Pass) to more than 600,000 foreigners had triggered many questions among Sabahans.
He asked if the special pass was equivalent to the passport with which the holder could freely travel around the country.
“Does a holder of the pass need a work permit to work in Sabah as is the case for documented foreigners from Indonesia. Is the minimum wage applicable to them?
“In the health service sector, foreign workers have to pay a higher medical fee. What about these people?” he asked here today.
Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) had earlier warned against issuing the special pass to foreigners as they would eventually number more than “genuine” Sabahans.
Last week, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the special pass would replace three types of documents currently being held by documented foreigners in Sabah – the IMM13 issued to refugees, the “kad burung-burung” and the census certificate.
It is estimated that about 600,000 people are carrying the three types of documents, out of about 1.1 million foreigners residing in Sabah.
PBS information chief Joniston Bangkuai, who is also the Kiulu assemblyman, yesterday said issuing the special pass to foreign nationals to remain in the state was tantamount to allowing them to multiply.
“This would alter the state’s demography, with the possibility of them outnumbering locals and eventually putting locals at a disadvantage,” he said.
Bumburing agreed with Bangkuai’s sentiments, adding that by issuing the special pass, the government was saying the immigrants could stay in Sabah for long periods without proper travel documents by virtue of the pass which would be renewable every three years.
“This (means) dispensing with the immigration laws of the country. Further questions also surround the documentation management of the offspring of these immigrants,” he said.
In a response to Bangkuai, Warisan treasurer-general Terrence Siambun had said he had missed the point of the special temporary pass, which was to determine the number of immigrants and keep track of their movement.
Siambun also contended the Warisan-led state government had simply begun what was recommended by the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into illegal immigrants, which was held during the Barisan Nasional administration.
Commenting on Siambun’s reply, Bumburing asked what the government would do about the RCI report which had stated there were many cases of illegal issuance of identity cards (ICs) to illegal immigrants in the past.
“It is a fact that there are many around who are still holding these illegal ICs,” he said.
On the 600,000 figure put on the foreigners holding various types of identification documents in Sabah, Bumburing said this was just an estimate as no census had been done to determine the exact number.
“If the government is serious, all government assets and institutions, including the village heads and Village Community Management Council (MPKK) chairmen, must be involved as they are the ones who know where such people are residing,” he said.