Hamzah: Sabah leaders must have political will to issue foreigner card

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will need the political will to proceed with the Home Ministry's proposal to issue a special foreigner card as part of an effort to resolve the state's long-standing undocumented migrant problem.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said the decision should come from leaders in the state government.

Hamzah, who had earlier proposed issuing a card to foreigners to resolve issues of stateless persons and undocumented migrants, stressed that it was not a form of permanent residency or citizenship.

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The Sabah government rejected the proposal to issue special cards to foreigners earlier this year.

Hamzah said the problem of undocumented foreigners was a "time bomb" that could set off more social problems.

"There are many parents and children born without documents who have been living in Sabah for a long time," he said when launching the Pesta Kaamatan celebration in Kuala Penyu, about 120km south-west of the state capital here, on Sunday (May 15).

"We do not want social problems to (take root) in Sabah because of this," he added.

Hamzah said the foreigner card would also help address manpower needs in various industries and allow enforcement agencies to weed out criminal elements among undocumented individuals.

ALSO READ: Illegal immigration issue more pressing than ever

On the question of upgrading police stations, Hamzah said an assessment exercise will be carried out nationwide covering all grades of police stations up to district police headquarters level.

He said the assessment would be based on several criteria including the population density of each district.

"We have to understand that although there are many districts in Malaysia, there are only fewer than 160 (district headquarters), because some of these HQs cover several districts.

"This is because when we want to develop a district HQ, we not only look at the status of the district but also how many residents there are. (The objective) is to maintain security, not just to develop (a police HQ) in the area.

"But, when we get to a certain level, and see that (the status of a police station) needs to be raised, then we raise it," he said.

He added that the upgrading is not just to district headquarters level but "the stations also have grades and we will raise their status (according to needs)."

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