KOTA KINABALU, Jan 17 — A Filipino refugee told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants here today that he had received a blue identity card without applying for it.
Ismail Balaka said he fled to Sabah in 1975 to escape the civil war in the Philippines.
“Did you obtain your identity card without going to the National Registration Department (NRD)?” asked conducting officer Jamil Aripin at the RCI here today.
“That’s correct,” said Ismail.
He added that he also registered as a voter and has voted five times in Sabah.
Ismail, a shipbuilding worker, said he is now staying at the Kinarut settlement in Sabah with his second Filipino wife and their four children, who all have blue identity cards too.
He added that his first wife, who is also from the Philippines, was taking care of their five children.
Ismail said he and some others were called one day to gather at their village hall, but did not specify when.
Some people, whom Ismail said he could not identify, told him and the other villagers to sign a form, give their fingerprints and have their picture taken.
“I heard that we would be given Malaysian identity cards. After three or five months, I received a blue identity card,” said Ismail, according to his statement to the police that Jamil read out.
Ismail, who wore a white shirt, added that he did not pay for the identity card.
He also said that he did not possess any documents before getting the blue identity card, such as the red or green identity card for permanent residence or temporary residence respectively.
He denied that he was given conditions or told how to vote before getting the blue identity card.
Former Sabah NRD assistant registrar Kee Dzulkifly Kee Abd Jalil testified yesterday that 100,000 blue identity cards were given to Filipino, Indonesian and Pakistani immigrants in Sabah in 1993.
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 citizenship was 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 on Tuesday the existence of “Project IC”.
Ismail said today that he did not intend to return to the Philippines.
Another Filipino refugee called Hatta Ghani testified today that he received a blue identity card in 1990 after applying for it in 1988, but had never had a red identity card.
Hatta, a construction worker, also said that he registered as a voter immediately after getting the blue identity card.
“I voted once in Keningau and twice in Kawang,” said Hatta, who wore a white kopiah.
The inquiry before former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong resumes in the afternoon.