KOTA KINABALU: The number of IMM13 issued to refugees in Sabah has increased by nearly five-fold in 2012, compared to that in 2005, according to a figure revealed by an Immigration Department officer to the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Illegal Immigrants here.
Head of Kota Kinabalu Immigration Department Special Unit, ASP Abd Khalid Abd Karim, said there were only 22,976 IMM13 in 2005 including those issued to new applicants that year.
However the number increased to 98,427 as of end of last year, said Khalid when testifying during the RCI proceeding yesterday.
Out of this figure, he said 60,248 were active documents, meaning existing IMM13 that were renewed by their holders within that year.
He said the remaining may belong to refugees who have been issued entry permits or those that have gone back to the Philippines, may have passed away or simply did not turn up for renewal of their documents.
He explained the hike was probably due to issuance of new separate IMM13 to children of existing holders whose names were previously included under their parents’ documents.
“An IMM13 copy may represent a household where parents have two under aged children but these children were later issued their own individual card,” he added.
He said new IMM13 documents were only issued to those with birth certificates and whose parents are IMM13 holders while non-refugee immigrants were issued different types of documents in accordance with the purpose of their entries.
He informed the panel that refugees come to Sabah via land through Sindumin, Long Pasia, and Pagalungan; via air through Kota Kinabalu, Tawau and Sandakan; and finally via sea through Sipitang, Kota Kinabalu, Kudat, Tawau, Sandakan and Semporna.
Khalid, who testified that he has been with the Department since 1983, also told the inquiry that photographs and thumb prints of IMM13 applicants would be taken for record.
However, he did not know if any agency has the record on IMM13 issued before 2005 or whether such record even existed.
Under certain circumstances, such as being found guilty for an offence in the court of law, an IMM13 holder could have their refugee status revoked and be deported back to their home country.
“The document needs to be renewed yearly,” he added.