17,000 respond in move to register stateless people in Sabah


source from nst online, 25 Nov 2008,

KOTA KINABALU: A move by the state government to register stateless individuals in Sabah had 17,000 people responding to it in a span of a week.

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Of the total, 1,272 were registered to be considered for the temporary identity document, also known as the “green IC”, while the rest did not qualify.

“Most of them who qualified were youths who did not have any form of status,” said state secretary Datuk Sukarti Wakiman yesterday.

He earlier attended a briefing by the National Registration Department at the State security council meeting chaired by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.

He said those who turned up included 91 foreigners who were later detained by the Immigration department after they were found to be illegal immigrants. These foreigners, caught in Tawau, are now waiting to be deported.

Sukarti also said the Immigration department registered 192,889 foreign labourers and 119,948 dependents between August and October this year. The figure included those who are here legally and illegally.

“We are now in the process of getting the governments of our neighbouring countries to issue travel documents to those labourers who are here illegally, so that their presence can be properly regulated,” he said.

The move to register the foreign labourers and their dependents was made after the state launched an integrated operation to track down illegal immigrants. The federal government has set aside RM50 million for this purpose.

“We have spent RM2.4 million from the fund and this year we have repatriated 14,628 illegal immigrants,” said Sukarti, who is also the chief coordinator for the on- going operation.

Since the massive swoop was launched, 29,575 people have been checked, of whom 16,083 were detained. He said the police had also checked 20,615 people this year and detected 11,816 illegal immigrants.

“We have now completed 30 series of operations with a few more to go before early next month,” he said, adding their focus thus far had been on the west coast and interior of the state.

“By next year we will move on to the east coast districts on a bigger scale. At the same time the security forces and enforcement agencies will continue their efforts to track down illegal immigrants in the west coast as a daily routine,” he added.

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