By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Dec 11: Sarawak should reintroduce the use of passports for people from West Malaysia and Sabah to enter the state as it is part of the immigration autonomy under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), opined Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing.
He said since the ‘Feri Malaysia’ service, which was launched on Sept 1, 1986, to enhance national integration, had failed, the use of passports for all non-Sarawakians should be reinstated.
“If indeed the use of passports was part of the immigration autonomy of Sarawak as contained in MA63, then we should reintroduce it since the ‘Feri Malaysia’ has failed,” Masing told DayakDaily today.
He also hoped that the Standing Committee from Sarawak that is going to meet the Prime Minister on December 17 would raise the issue.
“We should keep the original agreement as it is, as that would it mean all along that we have the full autonomy over immigration. And so, if indeed we have encroached into MA63, we should revert to its original status,” he reiterated.
Masing was commenting on yesterday’s news report by DayakDaily that West Malaysians and Sabahans have stopped using passports and instead used IMM114 (Disembarkation Card) to enter Sarawak since Sept 1, 1986.
State Immigration director Datu Ken Leben said that since then, West Malaysians and Sabahans could use MyKad instead of passports to enter Sarawak.
“Upon entry, they will be issued with a receipt of IMM114, which permits them to land and stay here on three (3) months’ social pass,” Ken told DayakDaily yesterday
Ken had also stressed that both Sabahans and those from Peninsular Malaysia could still use travel documents (international passport or restricted travel document).
He also said for Sabahans and those from Peninsular Malaysia who work or study here in Sarawak, they must use travel documents.
However, Ken was quick to point out that police and army personnel were exempted from using travelling documents as they were only required to use their police ID (identity card) or army passes, respectively.
Ken was ask to comment on queries from netizens who had reacted to State Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo’s suggestion two days ago that Sarawak make it mandatory for all non-Sarawakians, including people from peninsula and Sabah, to produce their passports before they are allowed into the state.
Soo said this was based on the fact that Sarawak is a nation or ‘negara’ and must go beyond financial and immigration autonomy based on the MA63.
She even suggested that as a ‘negara’, Sarawak should have autonomy in all sectors, except defence and foreign relations.
Soo supported her argument by quoting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who, in a recent interview, stated that Sarawak and Sabah are actually ‘negara’.
In a recent press conference, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg assured Sarawakians that the state still had its full immigration autonomy as it could still bar certain characters, such as religious extremists and bigots, from entering the state.
“Our party is of the view that we must protect our right over immigration because we do not want any extremists to come over and disrupt the peace and racial harmony in the state,” Abang Johari told a news conference after chairing a recent Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) supreme council meeting. — DayakDaily