KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will now embark on digitalising the data of immigrants in the state, with the hope of completing the exercise by the end of the year.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said a pilot project featuring over 14,000 respondents from the Sawit Kinabalu estate found that almost half of them immigrated illegally.
“We gathered the data from 14,855 foreigners, half of whom are illegals (sic) while the rest including their dependants are here illegally,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.
Kitingan said the main objective of the exercise was to digitalise the data for safekeeping and drawing up subsequent action plans to tackle the issue.
The statewide project, he added, was expected to start soon, with the aim to complete it by Dec 31.
“The pilot project is confined to Sawit Kinabalu,” he said.
Kitingan added that Immigration Department and police personnel were not roped in because foreigners would not come out voluntarily if they were involved.
He said other stakeholders would only be involved once policies and implementation began, while the data to be collected included biometric information and facial recognition.
Kitingan said teams would also visit squatter areas and collect information on stateless people living on Sabah’s islands, adding that sea gypsies, however, were in a different category.
“Once we have the data, we will know how many there are here and what’s the next step.
“We can know how many locals and non-locals work in the various industries across the state and we will be able to regulate the population in the country,” he said.
On the budget needed for both the pilot and overall data collection and digitalisation procedure, he said he was not sure how much was allocated for the pilot project as it was paid for by the state ministry.