KOTA KINABALU: There had been no "direct or indirect" involvement of the National Registration Department (NRD), state government departments and agencies in Sabah's "Project IC", said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic).
However, he acknowledged that there was abuse of power by individuals in or outside NRD at the time, and legal action had been taken against them.
"Action was taken even before the setting up of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (on illegal immigrants in Sabah), whereby 94 offenders were detained under the then Internal Security Act (ISA). This shows that there was proactive action by the Government,” Zahid said this after visiting a temporary detention centre for illegal immigrants in Kimanis on Tuesday.
He also noted that the number of Malaysian citizens in Sabah was smaller than Sarawak.
Zahid pointed out that according to the Statistics Department Report 2010, the total population of Sabah was 3.2 million comprising Malaysian citizens and non-citizens with valid documents, as well as illegals.
"However, out of the figure, citizens formed only 2.511 million, compared to 2.6 million of their counterparts in Sarawak.
"After subtracting the number of Malaysian citizens from the total population of 3.2 million in Sabah, the number of foreigners in the state including those with valid documents and allowed to work as well as the illegal ones, stood at about 700,000," he noted.
However, Zahid said, it was difficult for the ministry to ascertain the actual number of illegals in Sabah as they were not registered but their number was estimated at around 250,000.
Zahid also noted that since 1990, 401,000 foreigners, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, had been repatriated to their countries of origin with 17,434 repatriated from early this year until October.
He said efforts to detect and detain illegals in Sabah were ongoing and not seasonal, while any weaknesses were being addressed to tackle the problem.
On the proposal to increase immigration detention depots in Sabah and expanding the capacity of existing ones, Zahid said the matter was being considered.
On cooperation from the Philippines and Indonesia in tackling the issue of illegals in Sabah, he said so far, it had been satisfactory following discussions between the two countries. - Bernama