KOTA KINABALU: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) reiterated its opposition to the suggestion by former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh that foreigners be allowed to remain in Sabah for more than five years.
The party has told state Immigration Department director Mohammad Mentec the law is very clear that foreigners must leave the state before the expiry of the five years.
PBS secretary general Datuk Henrynus Amin stressed this to the director, who is a Sabahan, when he led a 12-member delegation of PBS state assemblymen and senior party leaders to pay a visit on him.
The high-powered delegation included Almudin Kaida, Datuk Seri Panglima Micheal Asang, Datuk Jahid Jahim, Datuk Herbert T Lagadan, Datuk Edward Yong Oui Fah, Datuk Jamilah Sulaiman, Dr Joachim Gunsalam, Datuk Johnny Goh, Sarapin Magana and Datuk Louis Rampas.
Henrynus said PBS opposed the suggestion to allow foreigners to stay beyond five years because it would only serve the interest of the big oil palm companies without taking into account the fact these foreigners would be eligible to apply for permanent stay or even citizenship should they stay continuously for more than five years.
“PBS is not anti-foreign workers, since the party understood the needs for these labour to fuel the growing industries,” he said.
“The party’s stand is very clear and has stated time and again foreign workers are welcome but they must be properly documented and they should never be allowed to become citizen,” he added.
Henrynus also said PBS had endorsed the tough stand taken by the Chief Minister as reflected in the Sabah State Cabinet’s decision to require all illegal immigrants who registered under the 5P exercise, including those issued passport by the respective countries during the amnesty period, to return to their home countries to get the necessary travel documents before being allowed back in Sabah.
He said while West Malaysia is implementing 6Ps, Sabah is only focusing on 5Ps without the regularization exercise.
“Those who registered during the amnesty period must go back to their countries to acquire proper travel documents and also to ensure there are proper records of their entry into the state,” he said.
Henrynus added Sabah had carried two or three regularizations in past years, and PBS agreed with the Chief Minister, illegal immigrants must return to their home countries.
He said PBS is fully aware of groups trying to change the political demography of the state through the back door but PBS is confident the Prime Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs are also aware that these subversive elements are bent on taking over power if they have the numbers.
Henrynus said during the meeting, Mentec gave a two-hour briefing of the progress of the 5P exercise.
“The briefing included explanation on the use of biometric system to register and document illegal immigrants,” he said.
Henrynus said PBS had endorsed the use of the biometric system since the party believes the system will prevent abuse of the Malaysian hospitality hosting almost a million aliens in Sabah.
He said PBS wanted to stop foreigners from using more than one identity or using different passport to fool the authorities when entering Sabah.
The party also believes once registered using the biometric system, it would be difficult for foreign workers to leave their employers at their whims and fancies as their movement would be easily detected, he said.
According to him, there is no perfect system to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the state, but the biometric system and the on-going 5P exercise are noble attempts in the right direction.
“PBS hopes the biometric system will make it very difficult for foreigners to make fake Malaysian identity cards or use fraudulent documents, as their fingerprints and personal particulars would be centralized,” he said.
PBS commended the State Immigration Department for setting up nine registration centres for the 5P exercise and at least three mobile units providing immigration services to foreign workers isolated in plantation areas largely in Lahad Datu, Labuk and Kinabatangan.
Henrynus said PBS raised the other issues such as public grouses or perception of the weak enforcement of illegal entry into Sabah.
PBS urged the state Immigration Department to change public perception by taking proactive measures to weed out illegal immigrants and engage members of the public who are keen to know.
He said PBS urged the state Immigration Department to improve coordination with other enforcement departments such as the police to detect the so-called “Jalan Tikus” since the sheer numbers of transient population entering Sabah undetected boggle the mind.
Although not directly within the purview of the state Immigration Department, PBS expressed its concern about the presence of illegal syndicates registering foreigners as citizens.
PBS praised Home Minister Datuk Hishammudin Hussein for his foresight to appoint a Sabahan as head of the State Immigration Department.
Since becoming the new state immigration director, Mentec has initiated reforms and implemented the rotation system of staff to ensure they are always on their toes when doing their job.
Henrynus said PBS is grateful for the hard work and commitment of the staff of the state Immigration Department who worked day and night to register the hundreds of thousands of undocumented foreigners and their dependents.
“We were told some immigration staff have to work till four in the morning to ensure those who want to be registered need not wait until the next day,” he said.
Mentec also congratulated PBS for being the first Sabah local political party to ask for briefing of the 5P exercise.
He promised statewide crackdown on unregistered illegal immigrants after the 5P exercise is completed and those caught must expect stiff penalties.
Mentec said the next wave of registration would involve legal migrants those holding valid passports, IMM13 documents, Task Force ID, the green card, etc.
PBS welcomed the assurance and said the party expects comprehensive actions and tough penalties for those illegal immigrants, including their employers who failed to register.
He urged the state Immigration Department not to bow down to pressure from incompetent and unscrupulous employers who may use political connections to circumvent the law.
PBS, he said, will render full cooperation to the state Immigration Department in the exercise of their duty, especially getting public cooperation to point out the presence of undocumented illegal immigrants within their community.