Sabah govt votes to drop controversial migrants pass after Kimanis loss

Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal (second from left) announces the state Cabinet’s decision to get the federal government to drop the controversial PSS.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Shafie Apdal said today the state Cabinet has agreed not to proceed with the proposed Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) programme following the outcome of the Kimanis by-election.

“We will propose the scrapping of the PSS to the home ministry soon. We can’t cancel it on our own because it is handled by the central government.

“We hear and see the voices of the people not only in Kimanis but also the whole of Sabah,” he told reporters after an event at the state administrative building here today.

Shafie hopes to meet home ministry officials next week.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had announced last September that the government would implement the PSS this June to replace the kad burung-burung, IMM13 refugee card and census certificates.

Muhyiddin said the state government would form a special body to carry out this project.

Last night, Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau, who is also Upko president, said he would propose to the Warisan-led government to stop the introduction of the PSS.

This follows the Kimanis by-election, which Warisan lost to Barisan Nasional last Saturday. Warisan’s loss was attributed to the PSS issue.

Barisan Nasional and other local opposition parties had played up the issue in the by-election, claiming it would lead to the granting of citizenship to illegal immigrants and also was a threat to the sovereignty of Sabah and the country.

Shafie said the state would inform the home ministry of its stand and leave it to the ministry to consider the next course of action.

“But of course the state government will play a role and be responsible so it does not jeopardise the environment in the state,” he said.

The Warisan president said the Kadazandusun Murut people were one of the communities that had strongly objected to the PSS, adding that the Sabah government was not taking their grouses lightly.

“The voices in Kimanis are a sign, especially in the KDM areas,” he said.

Asked what aspect of the PSS that people were most unhappy about, Shafie said it was the misconception that issuing a PSS card was tantamount to giving identity cards.

“That is totally wrong. But we don’t want it to be construed as giving ICs,” he said.

Towards this end, Shafie said the state government would play an active role together with the federal government to resolve the illegal immigrants issue in Sabah.

On the effect of this on the foreign labour force, he said the state would have to look at the needs of some sectors, such as the plantation sector.

“The work permit will still go on because we don’t want the work in such sectors to be disrupted,” he said.