Proham wants more bite for Sabah RCI
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Human rights group Proham wants Putrajaya to give more bite to the long-awaited royal investigative panel into Sabah’s decades-old illegal immigrants problem, saying it will go a long way to restoring public confidence into the questionable award of citizenship to foreigners.
The award of citizenship to foreigners in Malaysia’s easternmost state has been turned into a fiery electoral issue in the run-up to national polls due soon, with the opposition accusing the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition of using it as bait to collect more votes to maintain federal power.
Proham, a group of former commissioners with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), urged the federal government to empower the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) with two more terms of reference they said were crucial to resolving the problem once and for all.
“Proham therefore calls on the Federal Government to add two additional TORs namely to make appropriate recommendations pertaining to effective solutions on the presence of large numbers of illegal immigrants in Sabah including reviewing the standard operating procedures and regulations in order to ensure such occurrences does not recur,” it said in a statement signed by its chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun and secretary-general Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (picture) finally announced the TOR for the RCI, a move which drew support from BN component parties in Sabah but was swiftly criticised by federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders as being “too late” and “toothless”.
But the human rights watchdog applauded the RCI panelists as being very credible individuals who have the legal, administrative, academic and contextual expertise although it fell short of the female representation.
The five-man RCI panel is composed of ex-civil servants, led by a former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim. It also includes a former Kuala Lumpur police chief, a former Sabah state secretary, a former Sabah attorney-general and a former Universiti Malaysia Sabah vice-chancellor.
The RCI will have six months to investigate allegations that illegal immigrants were unlawfully granted citizenship by the BN administration in exchange for votes to help the ruling coalition stay in power.