The government will increase enforcement operations and speed up the deportation process of illegal foreigners in Sabah to address the state’s illegal immigrant woes. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Committee Meeting on Immigrant Management in Sabah, through the Enforcement Sub-Committee, has intensified enforcement action to address the problem of illegal foreigners in the state. Pix by Mohd Fadli Hamzah

PUTRAJAYA: The government will increase enforcement operations and speed up the deportation process of illegal foreigners in Sabah to address the state’s illegal immigrant woes.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the Committee Meeting on Immigrant Management in Sabah, through the Enforcement Sub-Committee, has intensified enforcement action to address the problem of illegal foreigners in the state.

“Based National Security Council records, a total of 553,692 illegal immigrants were deported from 1990 to March 3 this year. In 2017 alone, 1,120 illegal immigrants have been deported as of March 3.

“The government is also serious about the issuance and distribution of fake identification cards (ICs) being done by certain syndicates.

“Although the fake documents are invalid as they do not exist in the system and records of the National Registration Department, we need to act firmly and aggressively as not only is this fraud, but also affects the good image of the government," Zahid said in a joint statement with Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman in conjunction with the committee meeting, today.

Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said a special task force has been formed to conduct a thorough investigation on the groups in the fake IC syndicate, recently active in Sandakan and Tawau.

“A comprehensive investigation must be carried out to identify the masterminds so that legal action can be taken,” he said.

He said the government is also serious on the issue of illegal foreigners entering Sabah through the state’s waters. After taking into account public safety and interest, the government has taken the initiative to strengthen security at Sabah’s entry points.

“The Immigration Department has taken proactive measures such as by collecting biometric information from foreigners who enter and exit Sabah, as well as installing image recognition systems at each entry point.”

Zahid said the government has also decided to re-open transhipment activities effective Feb 1 to help boost economic activities in Sabah. This involves normal trade activities such as the import and export of goods (excluding petroleum trade).

The government, however, is maintaining the suspension on barter trade activities.

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