KOTA KINABALU: The issuance of Sabah Temporary Pass or Pas Sementara Sabah (PSS) to more than 100,000 “long-staying foreigners” is not a prelude to granting citizenship, says Sabah Immigration Department director Datuk Muhamad Sade Mohd Amin.
He said the passes issued to the specific foreigner groups would not change the fact that they were foreigners and would not be made citizens.
Instead of having three documents, there would now be just one document under PSS for “inland foreigners” in the state, he said during a programme in Beaufort to explain the government’s plan to issue PSS from June next year.
The three documents that will be integrated under PSS are Kad Pendaftaran Orang Asing Khas (IMM13) issued to Filipino war refugees, Kad Burung-Burung and Sijil Banci.
Muhamad Sade explained that there were far too many forgeries involving the three paper-based documents and PSS would be a card that came with the requisite security features to counter fraud.
A total of 136,055 refugees fall under this select group of foreigners and Muhamad Sade said their PSS would different from those who entered Sabah illegally, especially in recent times.
At a dialogue with some 200 residents at the Membakut multipurpose hall here, he emphasised that all other foreigners who entered Malaysia illegally would be arrested and deported.
“PSS is not about issuing Malaysian identity cards, and it is also not a ‘whitening exercise’ where illegal immigrants will be registered, ” he said, adding that the issuance of PSS involved the National Security Council, the Chief Minister’s Department and the Immigration Department while the National Registration Department (NRD) was not involved.
“Don’t link PSS with NRD and other things because PSS has nothing to do with the registration of this group of people to become citizens, but only a process to change the holders of three documents into one card, ” he said.
He said PSS would also strengthen the Immigration Department’s effort to weed out illegal immigrants as it would be able to authenticate identification documents.
Muhamad Sade said PSS 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.
The PSS issue has drawn criticism from the Opposition, which accused the government of planning to grant citizenship to foreigners who included refugees.
Muhamad Sade said illegal immigrants in Sabah were a different issue.
“We have arrested about 5,000 illegal immigrants this year, and they have been deported.
“We hope PSS will not be politicised as it was a policy decided 10 years ago, and it will help authorities resolve Sabah’s immigrant problem, ” he said.