100,000 ICs given to immigrants in 1993, RCI told

By Boo Su-Lyn
January 16, 2013
Latest Update: January 17, 2013 02:49 am

A boy operates a boat in front of illegal houses built on the seafront in Kota Kinabalu. — file picA boy operates a boat in front of illegal houses built on the seafront in Kota Kinabalu. — file picKOTA KINABALU, Jan 16 — About 100,000 blue identity cards were given to immigrants in Sabah in 1993, a former National Registration Department (NRD) officer told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants today.

Sabah NRD assistant registrar Kee Dzulkifly Kee Abd Jalil said today that he had received RM80,000 from then Sabah NRD director Ramli Kamarudin for issuing the identity cards to Filipino, Indonesian and Pakistani immigrants in Sabah.

“My department chief said there was a letter from the (Sabah) chief minister, Tan Sri Harris Salleh. My department chief told me to give identity cards to people who applied for them at the counter,” Kee Dzulkifly told the RCI here today.

Kee Dzulkifly said he was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) from 1995 to 1999.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’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 for their votes.

But former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who administered the state from 1976 to 1985, denied yesterday the existence of “Project IC”.

Dzulkifly also said today that more than 100,000 birth certificates were issued to immigrants in the early 1990s.

Ramli testified earlier today that the late Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub, who was then the deputy home affairs minister, had ordered him to issue NRD receipts enabling illegal immigrants to vote in the 1994 state election.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) won just 25 out of 48 state assembly seats in the 1994 state election.

But several PBS MPs defected to Barisan Nasional (BN) shortly after, causing the collapse of the PBS government.

Akop Damsah, who was then the head of the NRD Tamparuli office in Sabah, testified today that he had signed hundreds of thousands of identity cards for immigrants in Sabah in the early 1990s.

Akop added that he and some other NRD officers were sent to Kuala Lumpur to sign identity cards for mostly Filipino and Indonesian immigrants in Sabah, but did not specify when.

“We were placed at (Tan Sri) Aziz Shamsuddin’s house,” he said, referring to Dr Mahathir’s then political secretary.

Asked why the identity cards were signed, Akop said: “They briefed us that the goal was to increase Muslim voters in Sabah and to oust PBS.”

“(The identity cards were issued) to vote for Umno in the election,” he added.

Akop said he was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1996.

He added that he knew that his actions were illegal.

“Verbally, there were guarantees that we would be protected at that time. Protected from the law,” he said.

About 28 per cent of Sabah’s 3.2 million-strong population are foreigners, numbering at 889,000, based on a 2010 census.

The inquiry before former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong resumes tomorrow.