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KOTA KINABALU, Nov 18, 2015:

Foreigners born in Sabah, whose parents had probably entered the state illegally, must be given the opportunity to own a special document that would allow them to seek employment here.

“But we must be reminded that this does not necessarily legalise them, or make them a Malaysian citizen.

“It’s just a document that will serve to record their presence in Sabah,” said Sabah Restaurants Fellowship Association (SRFA) president Kapitan Lim Vun Chan yesterday.

He was commenting on a proposal of “conditional legalisation” of illegal immigrants born in Sabah by president of the Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) Datuk Seri TC Goh recently.

Lim told The Rakyat Post that this was meant to be a practical move to address the acute shortage of workers currently plaguing the food and beverages (F&B) industry in the state.

He noted that around 70-80% of Sabah’s workforce was made up of foreign workers and that the state was currently facing an acute shortage of workers, which had significantly affected not just the standard service industry, but also the state’s tourism.

“We in the F&B industry have been plagued by this problem for many years.

“We have been looking forward to a dialogue with the relevant government departments and agencies, with the hope of finding a ‘win-win’ solution,” Lim, who is also one of the proprietors of Port View Seafood Village, said.

He stressed that providing these foreigners some sort of documents would keep them from being harassed by certain groups who were taking advantage of their conditions to demand “protection money”.

Lim also reiterated that it was not that the F&B industry was shunning the local workers, but it was because the latter were uninterested, thus leaving them no choice but to employ the foreign workers.

“We have no intention of ‘selling’ our country or citizenship.

“All we ask is for the government to consider giving these foreign workers, especially those who’ve lived here for decades, some kind of special passes or documents so they can get jobs.

“But, of course, there must be conditions. If they are involved in crime, the document should be revoked and they should be sent home to their country of origin.”

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