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.

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