KOTA KINABALU: The native community is not exactly celebrating the Home Ministry’s proposal of regulating the multiple types of identification held by illegal immigrants in Sabah with a single document – IMM13.
At best their response to the idea has been lukewarm with many questioning if it was in the best interest of Sabah.
Their reservations stem from the question of the process itself, incorrect categorising procedure and possible risks arising if the plan backfired.
Villager Ruddie Aloi, 54 from Kampung Gana, Kota Marudu, does not understand why all the previous state governments never wanted to deport the IMM13 holders in the first place after the civil war in the Southern Philippines ended.
“I know the previous state governments did deport illegal immigrants but they allowed IMM13 holders to stay.
“And as if tens of thousands of IMM13 holders is not a problem to us, the previous state governments issued hundreds of thousands of Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci to illegals in Sabah.
“Like what all the political parties in Sabah have been saying, the federal government should just deport all the IMM13, Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci holders back to the Philippines.
“After all, the Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci holders are illegal immigrants and as for the IMM13 holders, the civil war in the Southern Philippines has already ended.
“Just give them an amnesty so they can go back voluntarily,” he said.
He also does not see the point of issuing IMM13 to regulate the illegal immigrants in Sabah as proposed by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin.
“I think the purpose is to regulate the illegal immigrants in Sabah by cancelling whatever documents there is but why must you give them a document that is meant for refugees?”
As for Gullih @ Michael Asin, 63 from Papar the pertinent question here is whether the Manila government will recognise and accept the IMM13 issued to non-refugees in Sabah by the federal government.
“I doubt Manila will accept these people (IMM13 holders) because both the previous state and federal governments never did anything serious about it and worst, we gave hundred thousands of illegal immigrants the Kad Burung Burung and Census Card.
“Think about it – the moment we gave these illegal immigrants the Kad Burung Burung or Sijil Banci, it actually indicates our acceptance of them to stay and work here but without any right to apply to become a citizen.
“If we had never wanted these people to come to Sabah, we would not have given them Kad Burung-Burung or Sijil Banci and allowed them to roam in the State freely but instead detained and deported them back immediately.
“I think what the federal government should do is firstly to discuss with the state government on how to make Manila accept these existing IMM13 holders and thereafter, find a way to settle the Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci holders.
“Deporting the 40,000 IMM13 holders in Sabah will be a significant step towards reducing the number of illegal immigrants in Sabah and this will send the signal to Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci holders that their days in Sabah are numbered,” he said.
Meanwhile Mohd Shah Bin Haji Mohd Shaid, 35, from Beaufort agreed with Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri president Henrynus Amin that giving refugee status to non-holders of IMM13 would be a serious breach of the immigration laws of Malaysia.
“It is wrong to issue the IMM13 to a non-refugee in Sabah because he/she does not qualify for it.
“We cannot simply categorise these Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci holders as refugees and give them IMM13 because they’re not (refugees) and we are talking about hundred of thousands of people here.
“Manila may end up objecting to the sending back of these Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci holders who have been reclassified as refugees.
“We will end up having hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants walking all over Sabah with genuine IMM13 and it will be a unnecessary headache for us later,” he said.
In a related development, Parti Warisan Sabah treasurer-general, Terrence Siambun took to his Facebook to taunt the President of Star Sabah, Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan whom he had described as the biggest supporter of the Home Ministry’s decision to issue IMM13 to Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci holders.
In his posting, Siambun had said that the Home Minister, finally confirmed that even if the ‘stateless’ group in the Sabah is not entitled to get citizenship, the government will still produce an identification for them and that the ministry wants to coordinate all the illegal immigrants in Sabah.
He also pointed out that Hamzah never said anything in parliament about the claim made by the Star’s bloggers that the giving out of IMM13 to Kad Burung-Burung and Sijjl Banci holders is actually a means to deport the illegal immigrants in Sabah.
Siambun said it is now clear that the decision by the Home Ministry is no different from the PSS (Sabah Temporary Pass) which Jeffrey had vehemently opposed early this year and asked when he (Jeffrey) is going to organise his Black Sunday to object to the decision made by Hamzah.