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Sabah groups list 6-point action plan to tackle illegal immigrant problem

With no action forthcoming on foreigners with illegal citizenship in Sabah even after the release of an inquiry commission report, a group of political parties and non-governmental organisations in the state have put up a list of demands for the authorities to fulfil next year.

Among the demands is for a thorough clean up by the Election Commission of the state's electoral roll to weed out unqualified "voters", the group, made up of 21 non-governmental organisations and three political parties, said.

The parties are the Sabah State Reform Party (STAR), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS).

They and the NGOs also want to be given access to monitor the purging of the electoral roll from voters who were issued citizenships fraudulently.

In their six-point demand, they also want the authorities to scrutinise dubious MyKad given to unqualified foreigners and want a massive recall and reissuance of the special Sabah identity cards to all Sabahans and "genuine Malaysians" with permanent residence in Sabah.

They said this could be done by setting up a Sabah registration department under a new Sabah Registration Ordinance.

Additionally, they want the authorities to investigate and prosecute those who have been implicated in the report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), which was tasked with studying the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah and the alleged "Project IC" which saw the granting of citizenships to foreigners.

The findings of the RCI report, which was released early this month after a six-month delay, found that syndicates and those with help from corrupt officials had set up "Project IC" in the Bornean state for a "political agenda and money".

However, the report was silent on those whose actions altered the state's demographics and religious balance.

"The federal government should make available to the public all records of proceedings of the RCI and the exhibits, memorandum and submissions by witnesses.

"A special session in Parliament and the Sabah assembly should be convened to debate on the findings and recommendations of the report," the group said at a press conference today.

STAR chairman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said a request for an emergency session to debate the RCI findings had been submitted to the legislative assembly.

He will also lead a monitoring and action committee to ensure the six-point demands are met by Putrajaya.

"We want the federal government to take immediate action, or else the unhappiness among Sabah people will worsen."

Failing which, SAPP president Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee said the group would consider peaceful protests and bringing the matter to international level if the lack of inaction persisted.

The RCI report, which was released in Kota Kinabalu earlier this month, revealed that 67,675 illegal immigrants were given blue or citizen identity cards and another 68,703 given outright citizenship.

The RCI was formed on August 11, 2012 to investigate the problems related to citizenship and immigrants in Sabah.

The inquiry was closely related to “Project IC”, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners.

Public hearings began in Kota Kinabalu on January 14 last year by a five-member panel led by former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.

The hearing ended on September 20, 2013, but the delay in making the report public led to speculations of a cover up and that important information from the report had been suppressed.

There was further disappointment when the panel's report failed to put forth any clear solution, other than to recommend the forming of a permanent committee and a management committee to handle issues related to illegal immigrants in the state.

A total of 211 witnesses were called to testify, among them former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee, former senator Dr Chong Eng Leong and Kitingan himself, a former Internal Security Act detainee. – December 30, 2014.

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