KOTA KINABALU: The issuance of the Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) to over 100,000 “inland foreigners” is not a licence to citizenship, says Sabah Immigration Department director Datuk Muhamad Sade Mohd Amin.
He said those issued with the temporary pass remain foreigners and are not made into citizens.
Sade said the group targeted under the PSS was different from those who entered Sabah illegally.
“It is clear that PSS is not about issuing Malaysian identity cards and it is also not for illegal immigrants to be registered, ” he added.
He said the issuance of the PSS involves the National Security Council, Chief Minister's Department and Immigration Department, and had nothing to do with the National Registration Department (NRD).
“Don't associate the PSS with the NRD and other things because the PSS has nothing to do with the registration of this group of people to become citizens but is only a process to change the holders of three cards into one card (PSS), ” he said.
The PSS is meant to merge the various documents held by migrants in Sabah to ensure better enforcement and other matters, he said during an event in Beaufort to explain the government's plan to issue PSS to foreigners from June next year.
The three cards to be converted and integrated under PSS are Kad Pendaftaran Orang Asing Khas (IMM13) issued to Filipino war refugees, Kad Burung-Burung, and Sijil Banci.
Sade said there were many cases of migrants using fake documents, adding that the PSS was a preventive measure as it had the necessary security features.
There were a total of 136,055 refugees under the PSS exercise while all other foreigners who entered Malaysia illegally will be arrested and deported, he said during a question-and-answer dialogue with some 200 residents at the Membakut multipurpose hall.
He said that the PSS would also strengthen immigration efforts to act against illegal immigrants as they would be able to identify those who might be holding fake certificates.
He hopes the PSS issue would not be politicised as the plan was mooted back in 2010 when it was known as “Pas Residen” but the government at that time did not have the political will to carry it out.
He said the current government had decided to move ahead with efforts to overcome Sabah's perennial illegal immigrant issue.
The proposed PSS issuance from June 1 next year has drawn criticism from the Opposition who accused the government of planning to issue citizenship to these foreigners that included refugees.
Sade said the issue of illegal immigrants in Sabah was separate and efforts were ongoing to locate, arrest and deport them.
“So far this year we have arrested about 5,000 illegal immigrants without any documents and they have been deported, ” he added.