Mohammad (centre) speaks to an illegal immigrant during the exercise in Keningau.
KENINGAU 25th July, 2011: Apparently some quarters are claiming that the ongoing registration of illegal immigrants is merely a trap to round them up instead of an amnesty programme but the Immigration Department has categorically denied the claims.
The department’s director in Sabah, Mohammad Mentek said the registration exercise is to help the illegal immigrants and not arrest them.
He said certain irresponsible quarters were spreading lies about the exercise and this had deterred many illegal immigrants from coming forward.
It was launched last July 18 and will end next Monday, August 1.
Mohammad was in Keningau yesterday after conducting the registration exercise in Kota Kinabalu, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Tawau and Semporna. Today he will be in Sipitang.
He said during the past week, the numbers turning up was still low and he believed it was because many were afraid they would be arrested.
As of July 23, a total of 18,035 illegal immigrants were registered at nine centres.
Lahad Datu recorded the highest number of illegal immigrants with 5,317 followed by Sandakan (4,106), Tawau (3,369), Kota Kinabalu (2,126), Keningau /Tenom (1,025), Semporna (714), Sipitang (658), Ranau (478) and Kudat with 242.
Registration starts at 8am to 5pm from Mondays to Fridays and from 8am to 1pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
However, Mohammad said the time can be extended in cases where there are a large number of illegal immigrants.
Meanwhile, as of today, the Immigration Department will form two mobile units. One will have 10 officers to register 19,000 illegal immigrants in Felda Sahabat and another in Ladang Sabah, Beluran to register 9,000 others.
There are currently 180 officers of the department assigned to nine registration centres in Sabah.
The registration enables illegal immigrants to obtain valid travel documents in order for them to return to their country before they come back to Sabah with proper documents.
All those registered have been given two months to go back to their country of origin and the Immigration Department has allocated a week to monitor them before they implement enforcement.
“After that one week is up, there will be no compromise and those who registered but have not returned home as well as those who did not register will face the laws of the country,” said Mohammad.
He added that those intending to come back to Sabah will first need to get proper documents from their country and a work pass.
The usual valid entry points into Sabah are the Tawau Port for Indonesians, Sandakan Port for Filipinos as well as Semporna and the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
"Kami menganggarkan kira-kira 500,000 pendatang asing tanpa izin akan tampil ke hadapan untuk mendaftarkan diri melalui program itu.
"Urusan ini akan dijalankan di sembilan lokasi di seluruh Sabah,"
Setiausaha Kerajaan Negeri Datuk Sukarti Wakiman