KOTA KINABALU, Aug 5 — Sabah will soon undertake the registration of foreigners in its digitisation project that aims to regulate foreigners in the state in the long run.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Jeffrey Kitingan said that after discussion at both the state and federal levels, it was agreed that the registration process would be done by the state.
"The federal government has discussed the matter and they are ready to transfer the power to the state, this means Sabah will be the one to set up a registration unit that will be given the authority to approve names that will eventually be given cards,” he said, adding that the unit will work under the Chief Minister’s Department’s state internal affairs.
"Before this, the state had no role, no power in the process. The card will still be issued by the federal government, so there is a check and balance. No card will be issued without the approval of the government,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters after officiating an Agriculture and Aquaculture expo at the Sabah International Convention Centre here.
However, Kitingan, who is also State Agriculture and Fisheries minister did not give a time frame for the complete devolution of powers to the state, only that they will work on compiling the digital data as soon as possible.
He also said that despite talks of calling it a "foreigner IC” and other suggestions, no final decision has been made on the card until the complete exercise of the registration.
"Also, the numbers we talked about before are no longer the same numbers. We are now facing a labour shortage so it is difficult to find workers and labour costs have gone up,” he said.
Kitingan had announced in June that the state would begin an integrated digital data bank of foreigners, in an attempt to regulate and manage the huge foreigner population in Sabah.
The effort will begin with "inland” foreigners — those who hold various immigration documents like the "burung burung” and IMM13 document — while they will tackle those with "normal immigration or legal issues” later.