KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS), to be introduced to replace the three documents of long-time immigrants in Sabah, is a long-overdue initiative to ensure these groups can be monitored, says Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
The Chief Minister, in brushing off the concerns of naysayers, said the move would put a stop to those taking advantage of forging the documents.
The documents set to be standardised and replaced are the IMM13 (immigration pass issued in the 1970s), Burung-Burung card (issued by the state in the 1980s) and Census cards (issued under the Federal Special Task Force Census in the 1990s).
"This has been a longstanding issue since the report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (on immigrants in Sabah).
"We want to do away with the three documents as people can just forge them and it would be difficult for us to monitor where these people are, so it's better for us to coordinate under the temporary pass and take stock of where they are.
"With the temporary pass, they are able to be here – be it working in plantations or elsewhere – and we can monitor them closely.
"The Home Ministry and Immigration Department are responsible in managing this but, of course, the state government will keep a close watch on it," he told a press conference here on Tuesday (Sept 10).
The announcement by Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin last week on the introduction of PSS has raised concerns among the people in the state.
Batu Sapi MCA chief Datuk Chew Kok Woh said the move would eventually lead to an immediate approval of citizenship.
Shafie also reasoned that there was a need to regulate immigrants to monitor the workforce needed in the state, especially with Kalimantan housing Indonesia's national capital in future.
"With the capital city coming up in Kalimantan, the region will develop very fast.
"If those Indonesian workers in plantations go back to their hometowns in droves, we won't have enough labour and plantations will be badly affected.
"So we need to manage this situation carefully," he explained.
Meanwhile, on the recent statement by Philippine Foreign Affairs secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr reaffirming the Philippines' claim on Sabah, Shafie said this had already been rebutted in the past as "the whole world knows Sabah is part of Malaysia".
On the haze situation in Sabah, he said there were no bush fires yet but it was important, nonetheless, for all parties concerned to remain vigilant during the hot weather.
"We are not yet in the stage of doing cloud seeding (to create rain) but if things prolong, we may resort to such a solution, as has been done in the past.
"But it's still manageable in Sabah for now," he added.