KOTA KINABALU 30/01/2013: A man told the Royal Commission of Inquiry that his green identity card is not recognised anywhere but in Ranau.
Isabelito Pia, who is also known by his nickname ‘Atong’, said he had obtained the document for RM70 from a Malay man who approached him in the district, also known as the largest producer of highland vegetables in the state.
Revealing this when questioned by conducting officer Jamil Ariffin, Atong admitted that he had illegally entered Sabah through Tungku Lahad Datu, in September 1986 from Basilan, to start a new life, along with about 20 others.
He then sought employment in the new foreign land as a forest cleaner before moving to Sandakan and worked at an oil palm plantation for a year.
Pia then moved to Ranau to work in a quarry and married his employer’s daughter in 1990, and were blessed with two children aged 17 and 19.
It was in Ranau that Pia, as well as hundreds of foreigners who attended the census operation by the Federal Special Task Force, were ‘numbered’.
“A Malay guy approached me and said he could help me apply for a social visit pass. Everything was done by him and not the Immigration Department. I only passed him my photo and paid a sum of money. I could only renew the yellow identity card (IMM13) twice and after that he refused to accept renewal application,” said Pia.
He, however, disclosed that he obtained his green identity card (Temporary Permanent Resident) on April 16, 1993 issued by the NRD office in Ranau, which enabled him to obtain a driving licence and to open a bank account.
“I was however intrigued with the authenticity of the card, so, following my instinct, I verified it with the NRD office here (in Kota Kinabalu), and was told that there was no record of my card.
“The Philippine Consulate came to Ranau and I took the opportunity to apply for my international Philippines passport. I still keep my green identity card because it is only valid in Ranau, and not other parts of the country,” he told the RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah.
- Pia disclosed that after living in Sabah for more than two decades, he had applied for the permanent resident status twice, but it was rejected on both occasions for incomplete documents.
“The first time I applied, I had my employer as my guarantor, while for the second application, I had my wife as the guarantor. That seemed to have caused some confusions in my applications, so I was advised to return five years later,” he said.
He claimed that he had never been arrested nor had misused the document to vote.
When asked whether he would return to his country of origin, Pia replied: “May be not, since I have my family here now.”