Joint op held to remind oil and gas sector of 'Sabah First' policy

The joint exercise was held at two oil platforms in northern Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has sent a clear message to oil and gas companies operating in the state that Sabahans should be given first priority to work in the industry.

This was emphasised in raids on two offshore facilities on Monday (Aug 1) spearheaded by the Immigration Department.

Also involved were state Attorney General Datuk Nor Asiah Mohd Yusof, Internal Affairs and Research Secretary Datuk Ag Shahminan Ag Sahari, and Sabah Ports and Harbour Department director Maswandie Maimoon.

Sabah Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the operation was a routine check to ensure that all oil rig and other offshore workers were properly documented and possessed valid work passes.

He said the Immigration Department was enforcing a directive and policy by the state government to ascertain that all offshore workers had valid permits to work in Sabah.

ALSO READ: Sabah has earned RM800mil in sales tax on petroleum products so far this year: Masidi

“This is also in line with the state government’s ‘Sabah First’ policy so that Sabahans are given first priority in the recruitment of workers in the oil and gas industry, especially at all offshore production facilities in Sabah waters,” he said when contacted on Wednesday (Aug 3).

“Offshore contractors must apply for work passes for all their non-Sabahan staff or workers,” he added.

Masidi said the Chief Minister’s Department (CMD) will consider every work pass application and approve only those for positions where no qualified Sabahans were available.

“The CMD is continuously updating its database of qualified Sabahans to be offered to oil and gas contractors to hire if and when needed.

“PETRONAS has also agreed to assist the state in the training and upscaling of Sabahans in the industry,” he added.

In a statement, Sabah Immigration director Sitti Saleha Habib Yussof said they screened 311 workers in the 10am operation carried out at two oil platforms off northern Sabah.

She said 307 of those checked were Malaysians while the rest comprised three Myanmar nationals and one Indonesian.

“No arrest was made. The companies operating the facilities as well as offshore crew heeded to the rules on work permits set by the Sabah government.

“They gave their full cooperation during the course of the documentation process,” she said, adding that the exercise ended at 1.15pm.

Besides Immigration regulations, Sitti Saleha said, the operation also checked for possible offences related to human trafficking and migrant smuggling.

“Such operations will be continuously carried out with the state government as well as the Ports and Harbour Department,” she said.

Last month, Masidi told the state assembly that the government would prioritise Sabahans in terms of job opportunities in the oil and gas sector.

He said the state had a rigid system for non-Sabahans to apply for work permits in the industry.

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