KOTA KINABALU 30/12/2013: Two Philippine nationals had entered Sabah illegally decades ago. One has been awarded the Permanent Resident status and registered as a voter, while the other is still waiting for his identity card.
Norsiah Abdullah @ Emelda Doliente and Sandokong Rajamanta both came to Sabah in 1979 and 1974 respectively for the same reason – to seek a better life.
While Norsiah, who was then 11, had entered the state accompanied by an aunt with about 20 others, Sandokong came in a boat with his wife and two children, along with about 50 other Filipinos.
Norsiah’s luck in obtaining the PR status was way better than Sandokong’s, when her application was finally approved in 2007.
“We were dropped off in Kudat and my aunt and I immediately went to Keningau. There I worked as a maid with (a senior politician) Tan Sri Suffian Koroh for about five years. He had helped me secure a work pass and the IMM13 document, which made me a refugee. I was also given a green identity card from the National Registration Department office in Keningau,” she said sharing her early years in Sabah.
She then left Keningau for Labuan and worked as a shop assistant, where she obtained her second green identity card after the colour on her first card faded and turned orange.
On June 21, 1987, she was given the temporary residence card bearing card number 630105-71-5288 (the number ’71′ refers to international country code), and on Apr 3, 1999, she was called by the Labuan Special Branch office pertaining to her application for the red identity card (permanent residence). She passed the interview.
Five months later, she was allowed to change her identity card to a PR status. She then applied to be a citizen of Malaysia and on June 23, 2007, she obtained her citizenship certificate bearing number 670105-65-5058 (the number ’65′ refers to her country of origin, the Philippines). Norsiah applied to be a voter the following year, but disclosed that she had never practised her right to vote to date.
When questioned on the different birth dates on her PR and MyKad, Norsiah explained that her birth date was changed by her aunt to enable her to apply for a work permit.
“During those years, I had actually returned to my hometown to apply for my Philippine international passport, which I had to renew once in every five years. The last one was taken by the authority after I was awarded my Malaysian citizenship.
“Many had regarded my journey to obtain my citizenship like maggie mee (instant noodles), but actually I went through a lot of process to get it,” she said.
Norsiah got married to a Sabahan in 1985, and they have five children, four of whom were born in Labuan while one here.
Sandokong, on the other hand, was only informed of his PR status from a stamp on his Philippine international passport.
“I did not receive any letter except that it was indicated in my passport that my application was approved on Nov 1 last year,” he said, adding that of his seven children, two had secured the MyPR cards, while the rest are still IMM13 holders.
Chairman of the Telipok Resettlement Scheme since 2002, Sandokong said he left Tawi-Tawi following the unrest and picked Sabah as his new home because, as he put it: “This state is a good place and accepts refugees.”
He said it was a 40-year wait before he was finally given the PR status, and till to date, he is still waiting for his identity card.