Compulsory biometrics in Sabah checkpoints to address security threats

01 Feb 2016

KOTA KINABALU: Figures disclosed separately by the National Security Council Sabah (NSC) and the Immigration Department Sabah show that 27,769 people were deported last year and 236 visitors were barred entry. Most of those barred entry were “women who failed to fulfill Immigration requirements”.

Newly-appointed Sabah Immigration Director, Musa Sulaiman, said among those barred were those who had previously entered the state.
“We have put in measures to detect problem visitors including those deemed a security threat especially those who jeopardize harmony in the state.”

“It’s compulsory now for all visitors to go through biometric inspections at all entry points. The biometric system can detect visitors who have committed crimes in other countries. Our passenger checklists are also updated regularly. We have strong cooperation with other security enforcement agencies such as the police, especially in terms of exchange of information.”

Among new initiatives, said Musa, was the Rehiring Programme under which foreign workers without permits would be given valid permits and no visas would be required for tourists from China effective March 1 to December 31 this year.

“Only visits longer than 15 days will be subject to conditions. We cannot rule out visitors abusing their visas,” added Musa. “The 3+1 expulsion programme from last year encouraged those who employed foreigners without valid documents to register them and obtain work permits according to their respective sectors.”

“However, we are waiting for the government to give the green light for the issuance of work permits to illegal immigrants in the country.”

The Department, conceded Musa, does not know why employers resorted to employing illegal immigrants. “We hope to find out.”
“There are no exact figures on such illegal workers. We want to engage with employers who recruit such workers and find out the reasons for them not applying for work permits.”

Delving into some figures, Musa disclosed that 18,874 illegal immigrants were arrested during integrated operations last year. However, 27,769 illegals were deported last year and the figure includes Filipinos, Indonesians, and mostly Muslims from the Indian sub-continent especially India and Pakistan, and some Chinese nationals.

Figures from the National Security Council Sabah show that 6,959 people were being held in temporary detention centres throughout Sabah, 1,630 in Kota Kinabalu, 1,987 in Papar, 1,823 in Sibuga and 1,519 in Tawau.

A total of 529,941 illegal immigrants were deported between 1990 to December 2015.

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