FASTER DEPORTATION OF ILLEGALS
Special cabinet committee also sets up task force to act against fake IC syndicates
THE government will expedite the process of deportation of illegal foreigners in Sabah to address immigrant issues in the state.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government, through the Joint Cabinet Committee for Immigrant Management in Sabah, would increase integrated operations between enforcement agencies in Sabah to nab illegal foreigners.
This, he said, had been decided at the cabinet committee’s meeting yesterday, which he chaired. Also present was Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
“The committee, through its Enforcement Sub-Committee, has increased enforcement operations in Sabah to address this issue. Based on records from the National Security Council, a total of 553,692 illegal foreigners were deported from 1990 to March 3. As at March 3, 1,120 illegals were deported this year.
“The government is also serious about the issuance and distribution of fake identification cards (MyKad), which is being done by certain syndicates.
“Although the fake documents are invalid as they do not exist in the system and records of the National Registration Department, we need to act firmly as not only does it deceive the recipients, it also affects the good image of the government,” Zahid, who is also home minister, said in a joint statement with Musa.
He said a special task force had been formed to conduct thorough investigations into groups involved in producing fake MyKad.
“A comprehensive investigation needs to be carried out to identify the masterminds behind these syndicates so that legal action can be taken against these culprits,” he said.
Zahid said the government had beefed up security at entry points in Sabah after taking into account public safety and interest.
“The Immigration Department has taken proactive measures, such as collecting biometric information from foreigners who enter and exit Sabah, as well as installing image recognition systems at every entry point.”
Zahid said the government had also decided to reopen transshipment operations in Sabah, effective Feb 1, to help boost economic activities in Sabah.
The government, however, maintained the suspension on barter trade.
In Kota Kinabalu, Sabah leaders lauded the move, with state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun saying it signalled a positive effort towards tackling the undocumented immigrants issue.
“There were many calls (to expedite the solution to the problem) in the past and the government has its own limitations. But now we must make sure that not only are actions being taken, but are ‘seen’ to be taken. The joint statement sends a clear indication that the government is serious in tackling the issue,” he said.
On the seriousness of tackling the fake MyKad operations by certain syndicates, Masidi said the task force formed would ensure no stone was left unturned.
“We need to get to the root of the problem... the government is always ridiculed for such matters and with this stronger stance, we are in the position to clear (the government’s) name, even though this is the work of individuals or certain quarters just trying to gain personal profit.
“The presence of large numbers of undocumented immigrants makes it seem like we have no control of the population, and we need to correct the wrong perception and image of Sabah.”
Sabah Umno Youth vice-chief Shahelmey Yahya, in welcoming the move, expressed hope that the issue could finally be resolved and the criticisms put to rest.
Opposition leaders, too, expressed support for the move, with Parti Warisan Sabah deputy president Darell Leiking saying it was good that the government took action.
He said it had been a long wait for the people of Sabah to see action taken against illegal immigrants in the state.