Digital registration could solve Sabah's undocumented migrants problem, says Hajiji

KOTA KINABALU: The issue of undocumented migrants, which has vexed Sabah for decades, can be resolved by digitally registering all foreigners, says Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor (pic).

He said data would be collected on all foreign migrants to ensure they had valid documents to live and work in the state.

After the data was collected, Hajiji said that the next phase would focus on standardising documents to ensure that everyone in Sabah was properly documented.

"If we find that a foreigner entered the state illegally then we will enforce the existing immigration laws.

"This action has already been carefully discussed and supported by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin," he said when officiating the "Kita Demi Negara" Programme held by the Home Ministry.

Hajiji also said that the state government was not hesitating in any action to improve security in the state and this included tightening borders with neighbouring countries.

He said border control was given priority as most of the threats to Sabah came from outside the state.

Hajiji said the security forces' move to place the General Operations Force (GOF) in strategic areas in the interior of Sabah was the right step towards curbing not only the influx of undocumented migrants but was a proactive measure to curb external threats, especially with Indonesia's moving of the capital to Kalimantan.

He said the Home Ministry's effort to set up the Pagalungan Immigration control post in the interior Nabawan would make it easier for Pagalungan residents to get services from the Immigration Department but also the National Registration Department.

"With an initiative like this, local residents can obtain a border crossing pass would also be easier," he added.

Hajiji said Sabah with a long coastline with over 40 islands was always vulnerable to various security threats.

He said among the problems were illegal immigrant entry, encroachment of foreign fishing vessels, issues of citizenship of locals and tackling issues of undocumented people in the state.

"I sincerely hope that these issues can be dealt with in the best ways possible by the Federal Government. The state government will give full cooperation to ensure that the security and sovereignty of the state of Sabah are preserved," he added.

Hajiji assured that the state would support the Home Ministry's efforts to strengthen security including efforts to set up infrastructure and the movement of security and enforcement assets by various agencies for operations.

"Sabah's security does not rely only on the Federal and state governments but people also have to join hands with the government to report things that are a threat and affect security and national sovereignty," he added.

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