KOTA KINABALU, Jan 14 — The Sabah and Labuan Immigration Departments had given the assurance that loopholes allowing free flow of individuals entering Sabah via Labuan will soon be a problem of the past, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah and Sarawak Affairs) Datuk Seri Maximus Ongkili.
He said both Immigration Departments had assured him that they were prepared to take necessary action to enforce laws and regulations to protect Sabah’s Immigration rights if the state government claims its full rights and authority under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
“We have observed that there are immigration loopholes between Labuan and Sabah’s entry points through the Menumbok and Jesselton Point ferry terminals, where no immigration officials are placed in these locations.
“The Sabah and Sarawak Affairs Division (BHESS) has raised this issue for fear that people with bad intentions are using these loopholes to enter and leave Sabah without proper records and documentation,” he said in a statement after a meeting with department senior officers in Labuan today.
Also present were Sabah Immigration Director Sh Sitti Saleha Habib Yussof and acting Labuan Immigration director Norlela Jumat.
Ongkili noted that the Sabah’s Immigration rights have been diluted with the federalisation of Labuan by the then Berjaya-led state government in 1984, and subsequent Immigration regulations for free flow of entry between Peninsular and Sabah, through Labuan as a Federal Territory.
“However, during the meeting, the Immigration Department said they are prepared to study and act on the decision by the Sabah Government on the matter,” he said.
He said the Special Council on MA63 (MKMA63), which is headed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob will help decide if the Sabah Government brings up the matter at its upcoming meeting scheduled next month.
“In the case of Sarawak Immigration rights, it is one of four MA63 rights declared as non-negotiable and the State has ultimate power and control,” he said. — Bernama