KOTA KINABALU, Dec 3 — The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on immigrants in Sabah has recommended that a permanent secretariat be set up to manage the various issues concerning illegal immigrants in the state.
Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Ali Hamsa in briefing the media earlier today said that the government has agreed to the proposal and that it will be jointly headed by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
It will also be supported by a management committee with “extensive powers” to conduct research on all aspects relating to immigrants.
The report said that the suggestion had come from a National Registration Workshop in 2010 participated by major government agencies.
“The management committee would have wide ranging responsibilities on all matters relating to illegal immigrants in Sabah, including serving as a forum to address state migration concerns, facilitating and coordinating the implementation of state and federal related powers on foreigners management, monitoring of data and reporting and overseeing matters relating to relocation, resettlement and other implementation matters,” said the report.
The permanent secretariat will also oversee the issues brought up by a separate working committee that is headed by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the setting up of a special panel to study the RCI’s recommendations, headed by Pairin.
During the RCI’s proceedings, which started in January last year, testimonies from Filipinos and other immigrants revealed how they received their blue identification cards or the MyKad — which is proof of citizenship — in just a few years after arriving in Sabah and how they had also voted in elections.
The Commission headed by Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong, who is also former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, was set up on September 21, 2012.
It had called 211 witnesses including former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before closing the case on September 20 last year.
The commission’s long-awaited report was finally released today in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, six months after the royal panel presented its findings to the prime minister and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in May. It is unclear what had caused the delay.