More than 600,000 foreigners detected in Sabah
KOTA KINABALU, Oct 18 — A total of 610,614 foreigners have been detected so far in operations in the west coast and east coast of Sabah, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said.
He said the number consisted of 5,643 illegal immigrants identified under the first phase of Operasi Bersepadu, 4,425 illegal immigrants identified under the second phase of the same operation, 312,837 under the registration of undocumented workers and their dependents, 57,197 refugees and 230,000 foreign workers with valid permits.
He said that the most significant success of the Operasi Bersepadu was the registration of 312,837 undocumented immigrant workers and their dependents.
“Through the programme, employers were told to obtain proper documentations for their workers,” he told reporters after visiting the marine police station here today.
He said that the approach was taken to protect the interest of sectors in Sabah, especially the plantation sector.
“If we take drastic action and deport them, the sectors concerned will immediately be affected. At the same time, the registration would also allow the authorities to collect data to facilitate monitoring from time to time,” he said.
Hishammuddin (picture) said the ministry had given employers a second chance to register their workers.
“The registration period was to expire on May 31 this year but has been extended to Oct 31.
“At the same time, between July 1 and Oct 31, the Home Ministry is giving a discount of 50 per cent in the levy for each foreign worker,” he said.
He added that of the 317,837 undocumented immigrant workers and their dependents, only 192,723 of them had so far been registered legally as workers.
“We have given numerous opportunities for them carry out the registration process, and the Immigration Department has also been instructed to open counters on a daily basis until Oct 31.
“As soon as the registration period is over, a more aggressive operation against illegal immigrants will be carried out and those who are still unregistered will be detained and action taken under the law,” he said, adding that the third phase of Operasi Bersepadu would be launched next month.
Hishammuddin also said that the federal government was committed to finding ways to resolve illegal immigration problems in Sabah including crimes perpetrated by illegal immigrants.
This was in line with the ministry’s target of lowering the crime rate by 20 per cent this year, he said.
On the registration of 52,000 stateless children in the state, he said, it was a unique problem and that the National Registration Department was taking steps to resolve it. — Bernama