Sabah’s immigration entry rights to be protected

LABUAN: Loopholes allowing the free flow of passengers entering Sabah via Labuan without immigration checks will be plugged soon, says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

He said senior officers from the Immigration Department from Labuan and Sabah had assured him that they are prepared to enforce laws and regulations to protect Sabah’s immigration entry rights.

“We have observed that there are immigration loopholes between Labuan and the entry points to Sabah through the Menumbok and Jesselton Point ferry terminals, where no immigration officials are placed.

“The Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Division has raised this issue for fear that people with bad intentions are using these loopholes to come and leave Sabah without proper records and documentation,” he said after a meeting with those senior Immigration officers yesterday.

Ongkili said Sabah’s Immigration rights have been diluted with the federalisation of Labuan by the then Berjaya government in 1984, and subsequent immigration regulations for the free flow of traffic between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah, through Labuan as a Federal Territory.

“However, during the meeting (yesterday), the Immigration Department said it is prepared to study and act on the decision by the Sabah government on the matter,” he added.

Ongkili said the Special Council on the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MKMA63), which is headed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, will facilitate decision-making if the Sabah government brings up the matter at its upcoming meeting scheduled next month.

In the case of Sarawak immigration, it is one of four MA63 rights declared as non-negotiable and which the state has ultimate power and control.

Among those present at meeting yesterday were Sabah Immigration Department director Sh Sitti Saleha Habib Yussof, acting Labuan Immigration Department director Norlela Jumat, and the Special Task Officer to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Philip Yaditing.

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