KOTA KINABALU, Jan 24 — The Sabah government will implement a special programme to collect data on foreign workers and non-residents beginning next month to address the issue of undocumented migrants in the state, says Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin.

The Sabah Foreign National Management Technical Committee co-chairman said the programme was important to know the exact number of foreign workers and immigrants in the state.

He said all the information including the biometric data of those involved would then be brought to the federal government and the Sabah government to find a solution to the decades-old issue.

“If the issue is not managed well, other issues may arise with respect to security, social wellbeing, welfare, education, environment and many others,” he said after chairing the technical committee meeting which was also attended by Deputy Home Minister I Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said at Menara Kinabalu here today.

Bung Moktar said it was currently difficult to determine the number of foreigners in the state due to data discrepancies between the agencies and departments involved, therefore the programme was also expected to improve coordination to enable follow-up action to be implemented properly.

“We will conduct data collection for all sectors to ensure not a single person is left out,” he said, adding that the plantation sector employed the most number of foreigners in the state.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued in conjunction with the data collection programme, Bung Moktar said it would be implemented by Smart Sabah Corporation Sdn Bhd — a company wholly owned by the Sabah government — between February 3 and August 2 this year.

According to the statement, after the programme ends, there will be a crackdown against undocumented foreign workers through integrated operations. — Bernama