Citizenship for vaccinated illegals in Sabah not on the cards, says CM

KOTA KINABALU: The state has no plans to award citizenship to vaccinated illegal immigrants in Sabah, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (pic).

The state will however, he said, consider the plights of undocumented natives or orang asal (indigenous) in Sabah, according to their rights and eligibility.

“The state government will always protect the rights and safety of its people and we do not have any plans to award citizenship to illegal immigrants,” he said when responding to a supplementary question by Kadamaian assemblyman Datuk Ewon Benedick at the state assembly meeting on Thursday (Sept 23).

“But we will consider this for our natives and indigenous people who still do not have proper identification documents,” Hajiji said.

Deputy Home Minister I Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said had said the government was considering giving identification documents or citizenship to vaccine recipients in Sabah and Sarawak, including the natives, and those who have yet to possess identification documents if they are eligible.

Ismail Mohamed said the ministry has set up a special citizenship status committee for Sarawak to look at the documentation matters for the undocumented aged 21 and above in the state.

For Sabah, the matter is being discussed in the Committee on the Management of Foreign Nationals in Sabah (JKPWAS).

There are more than 3.9 million adults eligible to be immunised in Sabah, and from that figure, over 1.4 million are non-citizens.

Ewon had pushed for an explanation on this after his initial question on the number of vaccinated people in Sabah thus far.

On this, state Community Development and People's Wellbeing minister Shahelmy Yahya said as of Sept 21, almost 60% of adults in the state had been fully vaccinated while over 72% had received at least one dose.

He said with the state allowing adolescents aged between 12 and 17 to be vaccinated starting Sept 16, there were a total of 144,248 recipients or about 39% of teens who have gotten their jabs.

He explained that Sabah had a slow start in its vaccination programmes due to several factors including having a low number of vaccines sent to the state before July.

Those aged 60 and above were also not able to register for their jabs via the MySejahtera app following numerous hindrances, Shahelmy said.

Since then, various state authorities have initiated awareness campaigns, mobile and outreach programmes, increased the number of vaccination centres as well as pushing for more vaccine supplies.

He said just through outreach programmes, over 358,000 people had been vaccinated as of Sept 21.

Shahelmy said the state had received over 5.4 million doses of vaccines comprising Pfizer, Sinovac, AstraZeneca and the single-dose CanSino vaccines to date.

“We expect to receive an additional 2.89 million doses by the end of September,” he added.

He said with the various initiatives in place, the target to reach herd immunity by the end of October can be achieved.

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