950 Pakistani nationals in Sarawak are legit — state Immigration chief

Datuk Ken Leben

KUCHING, March 22: It is unclear exactly how many Pakistani nationals there are in Sarawak, but what is certain is that 950 of them have legitimate passes.

Sarawak Immigration director Datuk Ken Leben said recently, the department nabbed eight Pakistani nationals without proper passes during raids conducted in Kuching and Samarahan.

On the 950 legitimate Pakistani nationals in the state, 522 are on Student Pass, 298 (Employment Pass), 81 (Social Visit Pass (Spouse), 26 (Temporary Employment Work Pass), 17 (Permanent Resident) and six (on Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) Programme).

In a statement, Ken explained that a citizen of Pakistan intending to visit Malaysia requires a visa on his arrival. Visa such eVisa can be applied online or through the Malaysian Missions abroad. The eVisa allows the holder to stay for a maximum of 30 days for each visit and no extension of stay is allowed.

Upon arrival in Sarawak entry checkpoints, he/she is required to produce the following: (a) valid passport with endorsement of entry into Malaysia (permission to remain in Sarawak based on the balance of social visit pass issued at KLIA/KLIA2), (b) sufficient funds in the form of cash, Traveller’s Cheque, Debit or Credit Cards to cover the expenses during his/her stay in Sarawak, (c) confirmed return flight ticket, and (d) proof of accommodation.

“Visitors listed in the Immigration blacklist will be refused entry,” he emphasised.

An eVisa holder is not allowed to apply for any other type of pass apart from the Social Visit Pass. If he overstayed the period given in the Pass, he will be subjected to an administrative fine provided under the immigration laws and his/her entry into Malaysia in future may be denied for a certain period of time.

“A Pakistani citizen who is married to a Sarawakian will be issued with a yearly Social Visit Pass subjected to immigration rules and procedures. Likewise, a Pakistani student will be issued with a Student Pass if they fulfil all the requirements stipulated in the guideline.

“The Sarawak government has imposed a policy on Pakistani nationals, where they will only be given an extension of employment pass on a 6 months basis and to comply with immigration rules and regulations. Since 2015, no new approval of employment pass has been granted,” he said.

On illegal immigrants, Ken assured that the Immigration Department was always mindful and continued to mount daily enforcement operations in sectors that are more prone to employ foreign workers, namely plantation, construction, manufacturing and service sectors.

In 2017, the number of illegal immigrants arrested totalled 2,904. Last year, the figure stood at 1,862. As for Jan 1 to March 18 this year, the statistics is 641.

These illegal immigrants were arrested for various offences under the Immigration Act 1959/63, Passports Act, 1966, Immigration Regulations, 1963 and other subsidiary rules. Out of those collared, 50 per cent did not have a valid pass, 27 per cent (Overstayed), 15 per cent (Abuse of Visit Pass), 5 per cent (Abuse Work Pass) and 3 per cent (Altered or forged endorsement).

Ken said the Immigration Department had also taken various measures to curb the presence of illegal immigrants.

This includes (a) the setting up of `Quick Response Team’ to deal with any complaint or report of illegal immigrants, (b) regular deployment of enforcement officers at points of entry to detect illegal immigration, (c) use Anti Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Immigrants Act, 2007 (ATIPSOM), (d) conducting awareness programme on engaging of foreign worker through dialogues and discussions with various enforcement agencies, employers, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and Consulate offices, (e) strengthen and impose a full compliance with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to protect the integrity of Immigration control and enforcement system, and (f) conducting re-skilling and up-skilling programme in intelligence gathering and tactical operation operations.

“We appreciate the effort made by the public at large who lodged complaints, suggestions and criticism regarding the presence of illegal immigrants in Sarawak.

“However, since not all foreigners are illegal immigrants, we would be much obliged if the public could furnish the information for verification,” said Ken. — DayakDaily