Amending immigration laws can resolve documentation issues, says Suhakam

KOTA KINABALU: More pragmatic approaches, including amending immigration laws, may expedite the resolution of documentation issues in Sabah, says the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

Suhakam commissioner Jerald Joseph said this was suggested by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal during a courtesy call on the sidelines of the state assembly sitting on Monday (April 15).

“There were 1,200 complaints to Suhakam last year, of which 500 were from the Sabah Suhakam office.

“From that, 80% of the complaints in Sabah were on citizenship or documentation issues.

“Some practical things the Chief Minister suggested we should look at include amending immigration laws to make it easier for these people who have been here,” said Joseph.

He added that Mohd Shafie also wanted Suhakam to find new ideas and work with federal agencies to find solutions, and that the Chief Minister's Department was also willing to organise events with them towards this purpose.

“If we wait for legal solutions, it will take time. Shafie suggested we find more pragmatic solutions such as engaging with the Philippines and Indonesian embassies, so those with such issues can become legal workers if they have basic documents,” added Joseph.

Suhakam commissioner Datuk Godfrey Gregory Joitol, who is based in Sabah, said about 30% of the cases were solved annually while others dragged on with no real solutions.

The second most common complaint lodged with Suhakam were native land issues, for which solutions were clearer due to support and clarity from district offices and the Land and Survey Department.