KOTA KINABALU: The State government is committed to comprehensively rid Sabah of the seemingly perennial foreign illegal immigrant issue.
Towards that direction the government will be guided by the recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau.
When it comes to the Filipino Refugees, for instance, namely the holders of IMM13 documents, all the necessary steps should be taken to eventually send them back to the Philippines.
The State Cabinet has been briefed on Wednesday by officers of the National Security Council that Philippines government “is agreeable to this provided documentation is made as a show of proof that they are bone fide Filipinos,” he said.
“I know, a lot of people were anxiously waiting what the State Cabinet has to say about the Sabah Temporary Pass or Pas Sementara Sabah (PSS)… The Cabinet had unanimously agreed on the direction of the government.
“It is a straight forward situation: for the last five decades, Sabah had been plagued with the presence of foreign illegal immigrants. This government wants to implement solutions to once and for all, solve the problem,” said Madius matter for factly.
The RCI report recommended for the formation of a Foreigners Administration Committee (Jawatankuasa Pengurusan Warga Asing – JKPWAS) which subsequently proposed for the IMM13 to be replaced by a document called Resident Pass.
The main committee was chaired jointly by the Minister of Homes Affairs and the Sabah Chief Minister proposed a name change, thus PSS.
Some other Cabinet Members suggested a few names, including Kad Warga Asing, he said, adding call it with whatever name but the most important things is it must only be given to Filipino Refugees and it must have security features embedded in the document.
“Moving forward this is what the state government is going to do. It is important that embedded in such documentation are security features such as biometric,” said Madius who is also the UPKO President. He was asked to elaborate on his speech during his campaign trail at Kg Daingin under the PDM Simpangan.
“The single document will be used as a basis for the Philippines to issue international Filipino passport to these people,” he said.
“This is the commitment of the government, that is the direction of this administration. Let us, one and all, together work hard to solve the problem and bring Sabah to greater heights. That’s our prayer,” he added.
Madius stressed, “Please, let me repeat, let us get the narrative right; the PSS is only one of the proposed mechanism to handle the delicate situation.
“For my party, our stand is very clear and consistent. Recall the identity cards issued to Malaysians in Sabah and reissue them only upon stringent screening by all stakeholders. This is the more comprehensive mechanism and is very doable.”
On whether or not the PSS would be implemented beginning June 1 this year as per earlier announcement, Madius said: “The PSS was only a proposal. The Cabinet paper was only tabled yesterday (Wednesday). I believe it needs to be tabled in the Federal Cabinet too before anything concrete could be implemented.”
Madius, who is also Trade and Industrial Minister, added that documentations such as the proposed PSS could be issued for the sole purpose of assisting the holders to get their international passport from their country of origin.
“The Cabinet was informed yesterday that the Philippines government will welcome home PTI who are here but are their citizens; They are willing to issue them international passports provided we could prove that the PTI are their citizens.
“How do we give the proof? One of the way is to provide documentations; and certainly IMM13 will not be good enough because it is only a piece of paper, yellow in colour without any security features whatsoever. Furthermore, the government had stopped the issuance of IMM13,” he said.
Madius readily admitted that while the direction is simple, the vetting process would definitely be complex considering the duration they had been in Sabah, and compounded by the fact that the original IMM13 could have been faked over the years.
“We are talking about the IMM13. But suddenly we also have people who claimed they are holders of Kad Burung-Burung and Kad Banci. By the way, the legalities of the last two are doubtful”, he said, adding, initially the PSS was supposedly for about 600,000 people, but later on, it was reduced to 136,055.
“That is the problem when we do not practice good governance; a committee, albiet a high level one, announced a number, only for another person to quote a totally different figure soon after,” he said.
Madius pointed out the PSS, but was called Pas Residen Sabah (PRESS) then, was a proposal by the previous governments in which the then Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman and the then deputy chief minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan were directly involved.
“To be fair, the previous government seemed to have thought about the solution to the PTI issue,” he said, adding a committee co-chaired by Tan Sri Musa and Dato Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs approved the PRESS proposal on 16 May 2016.
Madius was therefore puzzled with an accusation by former Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman who was quoted as blaming Madius’ supposed betrayal for PSS and state right erosion.
“If Datuk Anifah did say as per what is reported, then I feel very sad for him. He won the Kimanis seat, lost it due to reasons we all know, and openly condemned UMNO. Then he woke up few days ago, team up with UMNO, and concocted a story about me.
“I wonder if he ever made any move to discuss with the Philippine government on the PTIs when he was Foreign Minister, and why he conveniently forgot that his own brother, and UMNO, were directly involved in the PRESS?
“What about a submission by one Jabar Khan that certain individuals in UMNO Sabah were responsible in the issuance of fake ICs several years ago? Datuk Anifah had no knowledge?” asked Madius, referring to Khan’s statement during the hearing of Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity about ten years ago.
Both Anifah and Datuk Joniston Bangkuai of Parti Bersatu Sabah, among others, had been quoted as to have condemned Madius in the ongoing campaign for the Kimanis by-election.
Madius said, “May be Datuk Joniston is too new to know the goings-on in PBS. Why don’t he ask his president and in particular their former president about the PRESS which was decided by the JKPWAS – Teknikal chaired by Tan Sri Pairin?”