Sabah government not aware of registration drive for visitor pass
KOTA KINABALU: The state government is in the dark over the new registration drive for the immigration refugee pass IMM13, and the Chief Minister has vowed to get to the bottom of the matter.
Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the state Cabinet had no idea that the Immigration Department had reopened the registration for the pass until it was reported in the media on Thursday.
“I am not aware of the matter or that the immigration had such a plan at all.
“They did not mention it even during a recent security council meeting,” he said after opening Upko’s triennial conference here yesterday.
IMM13 is a visitor pass issued by the Immigration Department to Filipino refugees who fled to Sabah in the late 1960s and 1970s following a civil war in their country.
The children of these refugees are eligible to apply for these documents to allow them to stay with their parents.
IMM13 holders are allowed to stay in Sabah and Labuan and work without having to apply for a work pass.
They are also allowed to attend school and get medical services from the government.
Currently, there are 55,000 holders of the pass in Sabah.
The issuance was stopped in 2013 due to security concerns, among others, following the Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu intrusion incident.
Sabah’s Immigration Department, however, reopened the application on Oct 1 but announced an immediate suspension on Friday following the instruction from Shafie.
“I will find out who made the order to reopen the registration and why no one even bothered to discuss with the state Cabinet or inform them in the first place.
“We cannot let this happen; for those who are illegal immigrants, we must send them back to where they came from, but for those with one parent who is a local, they must be attended to and we will see how we can assist in their documentation,” he said.
Shafie said the order may have come from the federal government as documentations were under their jurisdiction.
“This is also a practice that we want to thrash out,” he added.