Sabah testing out digital systems for special foreigners card

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is testing out several digital data systems to ensure that the most secure and reliable option is used for the special foreigners card.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan (pic) said that it was not just about obtaining the data of these migrants including refugees and stateless people, but also how secure the system is.

He said they need to test which system works best – not just for registration but also for thumbprint, facial recognition or voice recognition functions.

Kitingan said the state was working with local companies and researchers as well as technology companies from Germany and China.

He was speaking at a press conference after a forum on the labour shortage in Sabah organised by the Institute for Development Studies Sabah (IDS) here on Tuesday (March 21).

Earlier in his keynote address, he said that when the digital registration exercise is completed, the government will analyse the data and formulate the necessary policies and regulations on how to deal with the illegal immigrant as well as undocumented and stateless people issues.

He said while the main purpose of the digital registration initiative is to resolve the issue, it would provide them digital identification and could even allow them to be employed in Sabah should the government decide on such a policy.

"This is one way to reduce the labour shortage and cut down dependence on foreign labour in Sabah," Kitingan said, adding that Sabah remains hopeful to have full authority on labour, consistent with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

"It is not a new right as Sabah had its own Labour Ordinance before 1963," he said.

He also said there was a need to adopt innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and machine learning to overcome labour shortages.

"We need to introduce better work benefits for locals so that they are more willing to do intensive labour here – just like how many of our youth are willing to work overseas in farms and other places," said Kitingan.

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