Syndicates and individuals aided by corrupt officials spun a web to create a so-called “Project IC” in Sabah with a purported corrosive political agenda for monetary gains.
This was among various issues highlighted in a 368-page report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on immigrants in Sabah made public Wednesday.
The report, however, did not name any perpetrators or guilty parties as this was not within the commission’s scope of duties, as stated in the terms of reference (TOR).
The report, which was made public at 4.30pm following a town hall meeting in Kota Kinabalu, summarises the testimonies of key figures among the 211 witnesses who appeared before the commission’s five-member panel, headed by former Borneo Chief Judge Tan Sri Steve Shim.
The hearing was held between Jan 14 and Sept 23 last year, where extensive evidence was gathered on the status of immigrants in Sabah, and the standard operating procedures in the issuance of blue ICs or citizenship.
Among the key witnesses were former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former Umno minister Tan Sri Aziz Shamsuddin, ex-Sabah chief ministers, as well as former National Registration Department and Immigration department directors.
The witnesses also included politicians, civil servants, academicians and Filipino, Indonesian, Pakistani and Indian immigrants.
But none admitted to any wrongdoing or was there any prove of the existence of a Project IC although several of them admitted that ICs were issued fraudulently by “syndicates and individuals aided by or in complicity with corrupt officials” taking advantage of a weak system.
The second part of the report summarises the evidence and sheds light on how the influx of foreigners under the Project IC had become a burden to Sabah, with the state’s population increasing by nearly four-fold in the last four decades.
It also notes several solutions to the immigrant problem, focusing on three main proposals forwarded by witnesses during the course of the inquiry.
In a one-page recommendation, the RCI highlighted the need for strong political will from the Federal and state governments to curb the illegal immigrants problem, suggesting that a Permanent Secretariat be established.
To that effect, the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced last month that a special panel headed by Sabah deputy chief minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan would study the RCI’s recommendations.
The RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah was first announced by Najib in June 2012.
Its members were appointed in August 2012, and the commission’s terms of reference were set by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.-The Star