The proposed Pas Sementara Sabah (PSS) must be called off until and unless the government can give cogent, clear and consistent reasons for introducing the Pass. The government must also state clearly who will be given the Pass and the conditions of the Pass. This is because the unconvincing and confusing announcement of the PSS has caused alarm among the people. The government must not rush into a programme to legalise illegals which can cause worries and dismay among Malaysians.
Similarly, the Sabah Government had, in 1996, called off the proposed Cross Border Pass because its premature announcement (of the Cross-Border Pass for Filipinos) had caused public alarm. The then Federal and the Sabah State Government later introduced the Regularisation Programme for Foreign Workers only. Illegal immigrants were deported. Holders of IMM13 were allowed to remain as they were granted exemption from passports requirement in the 1970s under the Immigration Act. IMM13 was a one-off exercise to cater to war refugees. Surat Burung Burung and Census papers, which were issued in the 1980s, are irrelevant and cannot be used as a legal basis to remain in Malaysia.
At the outset, the federal Minister of Home Affairs had referred to the RCI report on Illegal Immigrants published in 2014 which detailed the problems of illegal immigrants in Sabah dating back to the 1970s. Today, the Chief Minister came up with another reason for the PSS. He said the PSS is aimed to stem the reverse flow of foreign workers from Sabah to Kalimantan due to the expected economic expansion at Kalimantan when the new Indonesian capital is moved to Kalimantan. This “Kalimantan reason” is an afterthought because the idea of the Indonesian capital in Kalimantan came about only very recently.
What the people of Sabah want is to stem the influx of illegals to Sabah. Instead, this government is trying to stem the outflow of illegals and foreign workers to Kalimantan. This is a funny way of combating illegal immigration into Sabah.
The figure of 600,000 holders of IMM13, Surat Burung Burung, and census cards is too big to be accurate.
Therefore, it has to be asked whether the figure of 600,000 include recent arrivals of illegals. If so, then the PSS will become a magnet for even more illegals to flood into Sabah.
This is because the original IMM13 card holders number only 60,000 issued in 1973/74. These are the original refugees fleeing the war at the Southern Philippines. 45 years later today, some of these 60,000 have returned to the Philippines, some have become Malaysian citizens, some have migrated to Peninsula Malaysia and some have died. As for the Kad Burung Burung (issued during the Berjaya era) and the Census papers (issued during the PBS era), these papers overlap with each other and are not immigration or citizenship documents. Some other foreigners have passports and work permits. The bottom line is that the 600,000 intended holders of PSS is too huge to be real.
In view of widespread confusion and serious inconsistencies on PSS, which has casted doubts on the real reason for the PSS, the government should call off the PSS until the people are completely satisfied that the PSS is really the solution to Sabah’s illegals problems.
Datuk Yong Teck Lee
Kota Kinabalu, Wednesday, 11 September 2019