Special pass may stem exodus of workers to Kalimantan, says Shafie

A view of Samboja, Kutai Kartanegara, one of two locations in Kalimantan being considered by Indonesia for its new capital. (AFP pic)

KOTA KINABALU: The special pass to be issued to foreigners residing in Sabah may be one way to stem the outflow of workers to Kalimantan, where Indonesia plans to set up its new capital, Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said.

He said the state is mindful of such an outcome considering the job opportunities that would be available when Indonesia starts building its new capital city in East Kalimantan.

Shafie said he expected Kalimantan to develop at a rapid pace once the relocation process from Jakarta takes place. He believes a large segment of the Indonesian labour force in Sabah, mainly in plantations, will return home.

“I’m worried because in the long run, the new Indonesian capital city will be located there in Kalimantan and that part of the region will develop fast. I hope the Indonesian workers in our plantations will not go back to their hometowns.

“The moment they’re back and we don’t have enough labour, the plantations will be badly affected. So we have to manage that.

“This is what we have to be mindful of. We need foreign labour in Sabah. There is a need for us to regulate them,” Shafie told reporters at the state administrative building here today.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced last week that the Sabah Temporary Pass, to be issued from next June, will replace three types of documents currently being held by documented foreigners in the state: the IMM13 issued to refugees, the “kad burung-burung” and the census certificate.

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

Shafie said the temporary pass will enable the authorities to monitor the foreign nationals who work in such sectors as plantations.

He said the three types of documents in use now could easily be forged.

“It’s better to coordinate and to monitor rather than not knowing where they are,” he said.

Shafie also said he had asked Muhyiddin to speak to the Philippine government to ensure that Filipino nationals who had been deported from Sabah did not return to the state illegally.

He said they could re-enter the state but with valid travel documents, adding that it was not right for the government to continue spending so much on deporting illegal immigrants.