Too many Pakistanis in Sabah caught Chief Justice’s eye, reports daily

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CURIOUS about the growing number of Pakistanis in Sabah, Chief Justice of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum (pic) said each of their documents should be examined, the Daily Express reported.

Malanjum said the Immigration and National Registration Departments should determine if the documents held by every Pakistani in the state were in order.

"So many of them (Pakistanis) in the state... we do not know whether they are holding genuine documents or otherwise.

"I am keen to cut the perception that it is easy for foreigners to enter and stay in the state with improper documents," the Sabah daily quoted him as saying yesterday during the revision application by the prosecution against the sentence imposed on five Pakistanis for using visas and social visit passes obtained with false particulars.

Their court appearance was followed by investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on a visa-for-money scam involving immigration personnel.

During the proceedings, Malanjum told the Pakistanis not to enter Sabah without proper documents and urged them to spread the message.

"Don't come to Sabah if you do not have valid documents... tell your fellows or write a letter about this... tell them that Sabah is 'neraka' (hell)," the Daily Express quoted him as saying.

The report said Malanjum was also curious as to whether a syndicate was involved in bringing in the Pakistanis to Sabah or those in authority had manipulated the system.

He then asked each of the Pakistanis how they had obtained the documents and who were the persons behind and involved in helping them get the documents.

The Pakistanis mentioned the names of one Bakiah, Amir, Sherahman, Iftihar Syercarda and Idrish.

On hearing this, Malanjum asked the MACC to check and trace the persons mentioned.

Malanjum thereafter enhanced the sentence of Sohrab Khan Habib, 22, from three months' jail to a year and that of Sartaj Khan, 22, Iqbal Hussain Gul Wazir, 37, Saleem Nawab, 32, and Ibrar Khan Ibrahim Khan from three months' jail to 18 months.

Malanjum, however, set aside the fine of RM10,000 or a month's jail imposed on each of the Pakistanis but maintained the order for the Pakistanis to be referred to the Immigration Department upon completing their jail sentences.

When asked why they had chosen to enter Sabah and not the peninsula or Sarawak, the Pakistanis told Malanjum that they found it easy to "cari makan" (make a living) in Sabah, the Daily Express reported.

The Pakistanis who worked as clothing and bread vendors also told Malanjum that some of their fellow citizens had advised them to go to Sabah.

They also told Malanjum that they had paid someone to help them get the fake documents. One of them said he was warned that he would go to jail if he reported the matter to the authorities.

He had paid RM1,000 to a man who had offered to help him get a visa and a job.

Deputy public prosecutor Nik Syahril had asked for the sentence imposed by the lower court to be enhanced as the offence involved national interest.

In enhancing the sentence, Malanjum said a heavy sentence should be given as a message and warning to other foreigners not to simply use forged documents to stay in the state.

On February 27 and 28, the five Pakistanis had been sentenced to three months' jail and fined RM10,000 or a month's jail each after they had admitted to using the fake documents as genuine items.

They were charged under Section 471 of the Penal Code and punishable under Section 465 of the Penal Code, which carries a jail term of up to two years or fine, or both, on conviction.

So far, seven Pakistanis have been brought to court in connection with the visa scam and two of them are still awaiting sentencing, and more are expected to be brought to court in Sandakan, Tawau and Lahad Datu.

Meanwhile Sabah PAS expressed support for Malanjum's suggestion that the authorities, especially the Immigration and National Registration Departments, run a check on the documents held by every Pakistani in Sabah.

"I agree with the Chief Justice’s comment that there are so many of them in the state and we do not know whether they are holding a genuine document or otherwise.

"Just go to grocery stores at villages near Kota Kinabalu. Even better, take a walk in the buildings around Segama, Sinsuran and Wisma Merdeka. You can see them there everywhere," said Sabah PAS Deputy Commissioner III, Hamid Ismail.

Hamid said the Chief Justice’s suggestion must be taken seriously by the Sabah government and the authorities if they want to solve the issue of illegal immigrants.

"As of now, I don’t see any serious effort coming from the federal and state governments on this matter except the establishment of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) Working Committee on illegal immigrants.

"Even this committee, based on the chairman’s recent statement during the Tawau Parliamentary Chinese New Year celebration at the Tawau Community, has not done anything active and positive," he said in a statement.

He reiterated Sabah PAS’s stand that the federal government must amend the relevant criminal acts and categorise the act of giving a birth certificate or MyKad illegally, including passport and visit pass, to illegal immigrants as a capital offence, punishable with death by hanging.

"With the new law applicable throughout the nation, Malaysians who are proved to commit the above offence can be convicted and sentenced to death by the court. This is because their action is an act of treason. They are traitors to this nation." – March 26, 2015.