KOTA KINABALU 30/01/2013: Soffian Mohamat ‘married’ a Filipina who was staying in Sabah illegally and as a result, his four children were not given Malaysian citizenship.
Soffian, the 32nd witness called to give evidence to the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah, said that he and Salbiah Hassan wed according to Filipino rites in 1997.
Although his wife is a Muslim, Soffian who claims to be a pagan, did not register their marriage with the Sabah Islamic Affairs Council or MUIS.
“It is not that I did not want to register the marriage but was unable to do so because my wife does not have any travel documents,” he said.
The union which was blessed with four children however did not last and the couple divorced in 2011, he said, adding that all four children are under his care.
According to Soffian, since he did not register the marriage, his children were not accorded the ‘bin’ to his name and have been categorized as non-Malaysians.
The Kadazan man from Buit Hill in Putatan said he tried to resolve the problem but to no avail.
He also told the panel that a Pakistani man named Amit Amir had offered to help him solve the problem for a fee.
“Initially, Amit asked for RM2,000 but I told him that I cannot afford to pay that amount. Amit then reduced the price to RM1,000 and the reason he gave me was ‘pasal member’ (because you are my friend,” Soffian disclosed.
- Amit even showed his Malaysian identity card as proof that he was ‘a friend’ of the National Registration Department and said that he had also ‘bought’ his birth certificate, Soffian claimed.
Soffian added that after paying Amir RM1,000, the latter disappeared and the problem with his children’s birth certificates was never resolved.
“I have lodged a police report against him but there are no updates on the investigation,” he said, adding that he managed to resolve the problem for three of his children with the help of Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Datuk Donald Mojuntin and Datuk John Ambrose.
Only his son Asgar is still classified as a foreigner, Soffian said, adding that he is working at getting his son to be recognized as a Malaysian citizen and not a Filipino as stated in the birth certificate.
To the Commission’s chairman Tan Sri Steve Shim’s question if he had verified the birth certificates which were classified as late registration with the court, Soffian replied, “yes”.
“I just wish the NRD can be more lenient about this matter and give more consideration to locals,” Soffian stressed.
Meanwhile, Federal Special Task Force (FSTC) Sabah and Labuan director Datuk Suhaimi Mohd Salleh who was recalled by the Royal Commission of Inquiry for some clarifications yesterday, said that as of January 28, they had deported a total of 446,219 illegal immigrants to their respective countries of origin.
Replying to Conducting Officer Manoj Kurup, Suhaimi also disclosed that FSTF had registered a total of 69,315 refugees in Sabah.
He also disclosed that at the moment, there are 3,741 illegal immigrants housed at three of FSTF’s temporary detention centres – 1,899 in Papar, 683 in Sibuga Sandakan and 1,159 in Tawau.