Sabahans should work together on illegal immigrants

Community Empowerment Initiative Sabah (CEI) urges all people of Sabah to work together on a Sabah’s illegal immigrants solution roadmap.

“This is a plea to both the Sabah and Federal governments and all Sabahans regardless of political affiliation to work together towards solid and comprehensive solutions to address Sabah’s long-standing illegal immigrants’ issue.

“At yesterday’s (July 15) parliamentary session, the issue of whether IMM13 should be used to resolve the long-standing problem of stateless people in Sabah was hotly debated.

“Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd. Shafie Apdal later clarified that the IMM13 was issued specifically for the Filipino civil war refugees in the 70s, and the use of that document was therefore not proper to include other stateless migrants holding various other documents,” a statement by CEI.

In an effort to help the public to have a clearer understanding of various migrants documents, Community Empowerment Initiative Sabah (CEI) has recently released an interview video of Dr. Chong Eng Leong to extract his knowledge of the background and facts of the 3 documents – IMM13, Kad Burung Burung and Census Certificate (Sijil Banci).

Dr. Chong Eng Leong is a well-known expert on Sabah’s migrant problems, and this interview can be accessed in CEI’s Facebook page.

In addition, CEI commend Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd. Shafie Apdal’s call to both the Sabah and Federal governments and all political parties to work together and have a common stand on this extremely pressing issue with Sabah’s best interest in mind.

The public wants to see is a clear demonstration of a strong political, clarity of the issue and leadership towards solutions.

As the law guarantees the State’s autonomy to control immigration, perhaps it is time for Sabah to have its own state registration department in order to have better control of immigrants in Sabah.


It is time, especially for all Sabahans, to be united regardless of political affiliation.

CEI calls for our governments and all political leaders to form sincere collaborations among all stakeholders to formulate and implement a comprehensive solution roadmap to address the illegal immigrants challenge.

This ultimately requires effective cooperation between government agencies, local NGOs, private entities
and international bodies to enable comprehensive and lasting solutions.

Moving forward, we hope to see:
a) an establishment of a consortium of governmental agencies, NGOs and private entities to work towards a comprehensive solution roadmap.

b) an establishment and maintenance of a transparent database of our population.

c) an open and transparent government to government cooperation between Malaysia and countries of origin of our immigrant population.

What is the comprehensive solution roadmap?

Such comprehensive solution roadmap should consists at least the following components:

a) Immigrants Classification – to define clearly the different categories of immigrants based on their circumstances and documentation, for example, IMM13, Burung-Burung, Sijil Banci, fake documents, documents issued illegally and paperless.

b) Rights and Responsibilities – to specify the rights and responsibilities of those different categories of immigrants and document holders.

c) Fraud-proof Identification System – to conduct a thorough immigrant population survey and register / re-register all categories of immigrants using a fraud-proof
identification system.

d) Revocation of fake documents and review of illegal issuance of documents – As revealed in the RCI proceedings, there are a lot of fake documents and documents issued illegally, which should be tracked, identified and rectified.

e) Detention and Deportation – a comprehensive plan is needed to improve speedy detention and effective deportation of illegal immigrants back to their home country. This will require bilateral collaboration with countries especially the Philippine Government to issue passports for their nationals and eventually set up a consulate office in Sabah.

f) Border Control – Enhanced security measures at border entry points, rat trails and checkpoints are needed in order to control or stop once and for all illegal immigrants from entering to Sabah without proper documents

g) Work Permit – A comprehensive work permit policy to deal with those
immigrants who are entitled to work in Sabah.

h) Access to basic infrastructure and social services: Last but not least, for those immigrants who are entitled to stay in Sabah temporary, there should be a comprehensive plan to address their need for basic infrastructure and social services such Settlement and Housing, Education, and Healthcare.

It is well established that Part VII of the Immigration Act provides for special powers on immigration to Sabah and Sarawak as far as entry into and residence in both
States is concerned.

As the law guarantees the State’s autonomy to control immigration, perhaps it is time for Sabah to have its own state registration department in order to have better control of immigrants in Sabah.

For the sake of our next generation, we hope our governments, politicians and all relevant stakeholders could come to the table to discuss this issue constructively and work hand in hand to contribute to the solution to this problem.


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