by Murib Morpi. Posted on December 17, 2014, Wednesday
PAPAR: The action by irresponsible parties to twist the facts revealed in the recently released Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on Immigrants in Sabah has created a negative perception among the people in Sabah, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
One example, he said was when certain quarters claimed the commission had found that over 67,000 illegal immigrants (PATI) had been issued with Malaysian identification cards (ICs).
“The fact is that 68,703 foreigners have been granted citizenship between 1963 and 31 August 2013 and out of this 67,675 have been given (Malaysian ICs). I must stress that these are not PATI, and the commission has also found that the process used was in accordance with the National Registration Rules 1972,”said Zahid in a statement issued in conjunction with his visit to the temporary detention centre here yesterday.
Apart from that, he said certain quarters also purposely distorted the findings in the report to support their claims that the so-called Project IC existed in Sabah.
He said claims on the Project IC were unfairly made without giving the whole picture of the entire RCI proceedings, particularly the fact that the witnesses who testified on the matter were not subjected to cross examination.
The commission, added Zahid, found there were enough testimonies on syndicates and individuals involved in unlawful issuance of IC to immigrants.
“The people must have wisdom in screening and getting further explanation on the information they received regarding the RCI report,”he stated further.
Speaking to reporters after his visit, Zahid elaborated that the report clearly dismissed the government’s involvement in masterminding the Project IC as claimed by the opposition.
He said there was no such scheme to issue IC to immigrants unlawfully either by the NRD or any other government agencies, although there were evidence of syndicates and individuals being assisted by corrupt NRD officers to unlawfully obtain genuine IC for immigrants, and proactive action had been taken against those officers under the Internal Security Act 1960.
“The opposition, however, continued to insist that there was project IC, and many of them have claimed that the influx of illegal immigrants in Sabah had contributed to the sharp increase in Sabah’s population,”he said.
Zahid, in rejecting this theory, said there were only about 250,000 undocumented immigrants in Sabah, and not one million or even more as claimed by certain quarters.
Based on the National Registration Department’s (NRD) record for 2010 until October this year, he said about 700,000 from the over 3.2 million people in Sabah were foreigners, but not all of them were illegals. In fact, he said, most of them were those who were allowed to enter and with valid documents.
“It was estimated that only 250,000 were PATI and follow-up actions to deal with them will continue to be carried out from time to time,”he said.
“Some have valid passes and some are permanent residents and the rest undocumented. But there is a perception that when you spot a foreigner, they are immediately labelled as illegal immigrants. This has to change,”he added.
Zahid also stressed that the government has and will continue to aggressively flush out and take action against foreigners who entered the State illegally.
He noted some 401,000 PATI have been deported back from Sabah to their countries of origin since 1990. Filipinos represented the biggest number of the deportees, followed by Indonesians in second place.
Up to November this year alone, the authorities have sent back 17,434 PATI from Sabah.