There is nothing wrong in handing out citizenships to foreigners as long as the law is followed, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said tonight amid revelations this week by former government officials that identity cards had been given to illegal immigrants to vote in the Sabah state election in 1994.
Najib added that credit should be given to his Barisan Nasional (BN) for setting up the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah which had heard testimony about the so-called Project IC.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the country’s longest serving prime minister who was in power from 1981 to 2003, has been accused of spearheading the so-called “Project IC”, in which citizenships were allegedly given to immigrants in exchange for their votes.
But former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who administered the state from 1976 to 1985, denied on Tuesday the existence of “Project IC”.
Yesterday, the late former deputy home affairs minister Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub was accused of ordering the National Registration Department (NRD)’s Sabah branch to issue temporary documents to allow immigrants to vote in a 1994 state election.
“As long as we give ICs according to the law there is no problem.
“The Chinese and Indian communities also received their citizenships (in the same manner) during British rule. As long as it is based on law it is not wrong. This is not a big issue,” Najib told reporters after chairing the Barisan Nasional (BN) supreme council meeting tonight.
Najib added that the public should not rush to judgment about the issue as the RCI was still going on.
“There are 167 witnesses so we cannot make any decision yet. Let the RCI continue,” he said.
Dr Mahathir admitted earlier today that citizenships were given to foreigners in Sabah, but stressed that it was “within the law”.
“When I was prime minister, I was in power to determine the implementation of government policies.
“The government received foreigners to be citizens if (they) fulfilled certain conditions, furthermore those who are there are not one, two days but already 20 to 30 years and they speak in Bahasa Melayu, have the right to be Malaysians,” Dr Mahathir said at a press conference here.
“So the problem is when there are people who are tidak senang (unhappy) when there are some who become Malaysians although those individuals have already long resided in Malaysia, that is what causes problems.”
Earlier this week the RCI heard testimony that the Election Commission (EC) had instructed the National Registration Department (NRD) to change the names of 16,000 immigrants in Sabah and to give them identity cards.
Former Sabah NRD deputy director Mohd Nasir Sugip, who worked in Sabah NRD from 1992 to 1994, told the RCI today that the then-Sabah EC director, Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Yusof, had ordered Sabah NRD to change the names of Indonesian and Filipino immigrants to increase the number of Muslim voters in Sabah.
Yesterday, former Sabah NRD director Ramli Kamarudin told the inquiry that the late Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub had instructed him to provide immigrants with NRD receipts, temporary documents that allowed them to vote in a 1994 state election.
Yes. But the problem now is that citizenships was given unlawfully.
what laws, are there 2 sets of laws? one for those born and lived in the country but without citizenship and a different set of laws for those who enter through the back door, even the IC is free. Further you only formed the RCI after pressure from the people of Sabah, not at your own free will.