Put aside politics and work together to resolve migrant issues, Sabah assembly urged

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s issues linked to undocumented migrant and stateless persons can only be resolved if political differences are set aside to work towards a concrete solution, says a state assistant minister.

Datuk Nizam Abu Bakar Titingan, the Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, clarified to the state assembly on Thursday (April 25) that he had never accused Parti Warisan of being the source of the problem, or that the issue arose when the party ran the state from 2018 to 2020.

“I am also a (member of the) Suluk (ethnic group) but I am a citizen of Malaysia and I love this country,” he said during the state assembly sitting here.

In a supplementary question earlier, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Senallang) had asked when the problem started, and if it began long before Warisan came to power.

“I don’t want to be accused of (this issue) non-stop. I will sue if any assemblyman says so,” Shafie had said, among other things.

Earlier, Datuk Ewon Benedick (PH-Kadamaian) asked the chief minister for an update on the number of recorded immigrants in Sabah and the status on digitising the registration and records process.

Nizam said since the registration programme started in September 2022, the state had registered a total of 39,276 migrants comprising 21,994 foreign workers and 17,282 dependents.

He said this figure was compiled from outreach programmes which focused on the farming (estate) and construction industries as these fields have the most number of foreign workers under the 3D (dirty, difficult and dangerous) categories.

“Immigrants are registered digitally, whereby the personal information, facial recognition data and biometric information are stored.

“The main purpose of this programme is to get proper data on how many immigrants, stateless persons and illegals are here exactly so that we can act accordingly and hopefully solve this issue once and for all,” said Nizam.

Sabah's undocumented and stateless issues involve people, mainly Filipinos, who have various documents such as IMM13 for refugees, Burung-Burung cards and other temporary certificates issued by previous governments.

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