Sabah to collect details of foreign workers from 21,000 employers in bid to resolve long standing issues

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will conduct a six-month special data collection programme from Feb 3 to Aug 2 to gather detailed information on foreigners in the state.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Bung Moktar Radin said the programme, covering all foreign workers and non-residents. was to help undocumented foreigners in all sectors apply for temporary employment passes from the Immigration Department.

It will also give them a chance to return to their home countries without legal action unless they are wanted for criminal offences, he told a press conference after chairing a meeting of the Sabah Foreigner Management Technical Committee (JKPWAS-Teknikal).

Bung Moktar said the state government expects to cover about 21,000 employers from various sectors in the course of the programme.

"This programme is open to employers who have legal or illegal foreign workers, residents and non-residents, who are still in Sabah," he added.

He said without this comprehensive data, efforts to resolve issues of foreign worker management in Sabah could be hampered.

Once the programme ends, employers who continue to hire illegal immigrants would face stern action from enforcement agencies.

"This programme is to ensure that the state government has accurate data in 'real time' related to foreign workers for monitoring, control and security aspects," Bung Moktar added.

He said the state would also implement a biometric identification system to include fingerprint and facial recognition for every foreign worker and non-resident of Sabah.

Bung Moktar said the state government was concerned about employers who continued to employ illegals, and was also heeding calls by industry players to carry out a labour recalibration exercise among foreign workers to overcome manpower shortage.

He explained that the data collection programme will be carried out by a state government subsidiary Smart Sabah Corporation Sdn Bhd (SmartSabah), which will develop the integrated data management system to be used in the exercise.

"The company will manage all matters related to foreign workers in Sabah," he said.

"The programme will also help the state and Federal Government to draw up policies involving foreign workers and non-residents," he added.

Also present at the meeting were Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Mohamed Said, Sabah State Secretary Datuk Safar Untong and SmartSabah managing direcotor Abd Aziz Julkarnain.

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