The Facts on Sabah IMM13, Burung Burung and Sijil Banci

COMMENT: Many people in the past two weeks have asked me if I could explain the background of these three documents – thus this article. I hope this short article would help.


IMM13 is a social visit Pass for Filipino refugees who entered Sabah without valid international travel documents from late 1972 till some time in 1984. Some 73,000 were registered by the time the Home Ministry stopped granting this IMM13 in 1984.

The IMM13 Pass was granted through an Exemption Order (Section 55 of the Immigration Act) which must be approved by the Sabah Chief Minister as specified under Part VII of the Immigration Act – Section 65(3) which provides: –

An order under section 55 shall not have effect as a special law for an East Malaysian State except, so far as its provisions by the same or subsequent order applied to those purposes, with the concurrence of the State Authority.

Their children under 18 years old are included in the Pass. The Pass is valid for one year and must be  renewed yearly with a cost. Their children, when 18 years old, are allowed to register and be issued new IMM13.

There were around 84,000 registered in 2010 – including children/grandchildren (above 18 years old) of the original 73,000. Many did not renew.

It is the policy of the Federal Government: –

(1)to allow these IMM13 holders to stay and work in Sabah and Labuan only and are prohibited from entering Malaya;

(2)no forced repatriation except involved in criminal activity;

(3)to allow them to apply for Entry Permit after 15 years;

(4) after Entry Permit granted, Sabah PR status would be given.


* RCI on Immigrants in Sabah was told by Witnesses 3 and 109 about the existence of this document.

* IDS (Institute of Development Studies Sabah) and Chief Minister’s Department did an exercise in 1986-88 to look for all foreigners with no valid travel documents or ‘paperless’ in Sabah, and registered and issued them a paper called ‘Burung Burung’ – because the Sabah State emblem then was a kingfisher bird.

The following people came forward during the exercise with:-

* Old blue plastic ICs with IC numbers starting with H03 and H05 – these were designated Project IC numbers, ICs granted through Sijil Akuan prior to 1990;

* IMM13 pass – registered refugees as described above;

* Moro ID – South Philippines Moro fighters’ ID;

* Op Bersih cards issued by Police;

* Company letters – local employers’ letters;

* Suspicious temporary IC receipts – issued allegedly by NRD;

* Without any document;

The exercise registered the last five groups of people with a fee of RM5 each person.

Some 325,000 people were registered. It was not stated in the RCI what the Chief Minister’s Department would do to these foreigners except extending a copy of the list to the Police Department.

The Chairman of IDS then was Datuk Dr. Jeffery Kitingan and the Chief Minister then was Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

20 years later, in 2007, the finding of this exercise was reviewed and found that 9,000 were “refugees” – by 2008 they were not issued IMM13.

The RCI Witness 211, the last witness, a RCI investigating officer, testified that Filipino Muslim refugees holding Kad Jabatan Ketua Menteri (presumably Burung Burung) or holding Sijil Banci (see below) are allowed to stay and work in Sabah and Labuan and they can not be repatriated by force except involved in criminal activity – same as for IMM13 holders.


The Sabah RCI was told by Witness 5 about this Sijil.

The Sabah Federal Task Force for refugees was set up in 1989.

The first census was in 1990-91 – 300,000 were registered but not all were “refugees” although the census was done in the designated 32 refugee settlement schemes in Sabah and Labuan. There was no issuance of any Sijil.

16 years later, did the Task Force do its second census in 2007 for “refugees” only, those without the IMM13 Pass, in Sabah and Labuan – 59,237 were registered and issued Sijil Banci.

There was a third census in 2011 which was incomplete.

The fourth census was complete, in 2012, for “refugees” without the IMM13 Pass – 69,317 registered. No Sijil issued.


Some 73,000 IMM13 was registered in 1984 and 325,000 Burung Burung was registered in 1986-88 – almost 400,000 of them.

Given that the growth rate of Sabah population from 1970 to 2010 being 400%, then the population of holders of IMM13 and Burung Burung, including their children and grandchildren, could well be around 1,600,000 by 2010. But why only 136,055 holders of IMM13, Burung Burung and Sijil Banci now in 2020?

The answer is that a big number of them got the Project IC or Sabah PR status or Entry Permits or become unregistered/paperless – another topic for another article.

* Dr. Chong Eng Leong is a well-known activist who is very vocal on Sabah’s migrant problems