Lawyer’s group backs Sabah govt’s ‘progressive’ temporary pass for foreigners

Julia Chan
Foreign workers working at a construction site. Sabah Law Society president Roger Chin says Malaysia has made an open pledge to ensure the humane treatment of undocumented or irregular migrants under international commitments. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 12 ― The Sabah Law Society (SLS) is supporting the government’s move to introduce the Sabah temporary pass (PSS), describing it as a “bold and progressive initiative” towards resolving the perennial issue illegal immigrants in the state.

Its president Roger Chin said that the pass was a good consolidation effort that would weed out forged or wrongly-issued IMM13, burung-burung and the census cards with the additional biometric, photo and fingerprint security features.

“The SLS firmly believes that if the state knows and is able to identify who the illegal migrants are, then the State can manage law, order, security and resources more effectively,” said Chin.

He said further discussions into the process and criteria towards obtaining the PSS must be made transparent and accountable by the relevant stakeholders.

“History has unfortunately revealed that certain unscrupulous parties have compromised national security and sovereignty by providing documents to migrants who were not entitled to receive them.

“Therefore robust and ironclad safeguards must be implemented so as to ensure that there is no compromise or abuse of the process in the issuance of the PSS by the relevant authority,” he said.

Chin also said that the PSS should not be construed as a grant of permanent residency or citizenship to a foreigner nor should it be exploited to be a stepping stone towards citizenship.

Chin also said that while foreigners should be dealt with the full force of the law, there were many instances of migrants criminalised only for the offence of not having proper documents allowing them to stay and work in Malaysia.

“These migrant workers do play a significant role in the economy by embracing low-paid menial jobs that the locals in our nation shun. Malaysia has made an open pledge to ensure the humane treatment of undocumented/ irregular migrants under international commitments,” he said.

The Home Minister recently announced that the government would introduce the PSS to replace the three documents issued to some 600,000 foreigners in the state at a rate of RM120 per card, renewable every three years.

Opposition members have said that the PSS would be encouraging instead of solving the illegal immigrant problem in the long run.

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