Sabahans worried about temporary pass plan, says state PPBM chief

An officer from ESSCom checks the MyKad of a bus passenger in Beluran during an operation in March. Sabah PPBM chief Hajiji Mohd Noor says Sabahans are worried about illegal foreigners entering the state. (Bernama pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah PPBM chief Hajiji Mohd Noor urged the state government today to review the proposal to issue the Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) next June, saying it would likely encourage the entry of foreigners into Sabah.

He said Sabah must have a strict policy to curb the illegal entry of foreigners.

“The people in the state are worried about the implementation of the said policy. I am of the opinion that this decision warrants a re-study.

“The state and federal governments must listen to the people’s view on this matter. What the people want is that they (foreigners) who came to Sabah illegally must be sent back to their countries of origin.

“If they intend to work in our state, they must have a valid document that has been processed or issued by their country,” Hajiji said, when debating the 2020 state budget.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced in September that the government would embark on a project to replace the kad burung-burung, IMM13 refugee card and census certificate with the PSS starting next June.

Muhyiddin said the state government would form a special body to carry out the project. Federal authorities estimate that about 600,000 people are carrying the three types of documents, out of about 1.1 million foreigners residing in Sabah.

Muhyiddin also said the PSS would help streamline the monitoring and enforcement process, adding that enforcement bodies such as the immigration department are having difficulty enforcing the law because of the various types of documents held by foreigners in the state.

Hajiji said it was understandable that Sabah needed manpower to assist in developing the state but maintained that the government should not implement a policy that the people did not agree with.

“It seems this policy is being forced on the people, and it will definitely interrupt the wellbeing of the people who have been haunted by the influx of foreigners who have entered Sabah illegally.”

Joachim Gunsalam (PBS-Kundasang) also touched on the issue during his speech, saying the policy was still unclear and raising concerns that unscrupulous people might take advantage of the situation to make a quick buck.

This would put the state’s security at risk, he added.

“The people deserve a clear explanation from the government about the PSS,” he said.

Jamawi Jaafar (Warisan-Kemabong) said the PSS was intended to replace the three types of documents, and not aimed at new arrivals.

“The PSS cards will have biometric and other security features so that the number of 600,000 people will not increase,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hajiji also urged the state government to take another look at the use of pump boats by fishermen in Sabah.

He said he had received numerous reports that pump boats were the most preferred mode of transport for cross-border criminals from a neighbouring country to commit crime, including kidnappings in Sabah.

“We must look at this. I have also received reports that there are foreign fishermen who use pump boats to steal and carry out fish blasting in our waters.

“Pump boats enable them to escape and move through shallow waters within the mangrove forest swamps and so on. This makes it difficult for law enforcers like the police to detect and catch them,” he said.

Hajiji also said incidents related to fish bombs were rampant in Sabah.

“The incident on July 5 this year where two divers from China and a local diving instructor were killed in waters off Kalapuan Island, Semporna, shows that the use of fish bombs is very widespread.

“According to a report by the WWF-Malaysia, they have, through the installation of seven seismic detectors within Semporna district alone, recorded a total of 1,195 blasts from June to December 2018.

“There were 24 cases of arrests related to the use of fish bombs reported in 2018, while for this year there were 39 cases. This is very worrying.”

Hajiji also requested Sabah Law and Native Affairs Minister Aidi Mokhtar to explain the appointment of native chiefs, native chief representatives and village heads in his constituency, claiming there were signs of nepotism.

He said, for example, in several villages the brother of the man appointed as a native chief had been made the native chief representative, or the father was appointed the village head while the son was made the native chief.

“I bring up this matter because it has become a subject of complaint by the people, particularly those living in the villages involved, who consider it nepotism,” he said.