Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak announced today that the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah will be headed by former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Steve Shim.
The other commission members are former Universiti Malaysia Sabah vice-chancellor Kamaruzaman Ampon, former Sabah attorney-general Herman Luping, former Sabah state secretary KY Mustafa and former Kuala Lumpur police chief Hendry Chin.
According to Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahan, Najib made this announcement at a meeting with local BN leaders in Sabah this afternoon.
“Najib said, ‘I listened to the wishes of the people through BN leaders. That is why I created the RCI. All Sabah BN leaders want it’,” Abdul Rahman said in a Twitter posting.
Shim was in May selected to be a member of the government-commissioned panel to investigate the Bersih 3.0 protest headed by former inspector-general of police Hanif Omar but abruptly rejected the appointment, citing health reasons.
He was also a member of the five-person royal commission on the Lingam tape, chaired by former Chief Judge of Malaya Haidar Mohamed Noor.
The RCI announced today will be tasked to investigate the number of foreigners granted citizenship in the East Malaysian state and whether this had been done in accordance with the law.
If there were indeed illegal granting of citizenship, the commission will investigate whether such individuals have been registered in Sabah’s electoral roll, thereby allowing them to vote.
It will also look into the rapid jump in Sabah population, which includes citizens and non-citizens, and its social impact on the state.
Among other aspects that will be looked into are the standard operating procedures of the authorities involved in the issuance of identity cards and measures to prevent the abuse of the system.
‘RCI revived after defections from BN’
Najib had on June 1 announced the setting up of an RCI to probe the decades-long issue in the state but no further details were disclosed since then.
Subsequently, two Sabah BN MPs, Tuaran MP Wilfred Bumburing (right) and Beaufort MP Lajim Ukin, denounced the ruling coalition and its silence on the foreigners-granted-citizenship issue and have aligned themselves with the opposition.
This move prompted the prime minister’s visit to Sabah today, during which again the contentious Sabah RCI, which had been delayed since February, was revived.
In February, several BN leaders including Upko secretary-general Wilfred Madius Tangau disclosed that the premier will be announcing the RCI during his visit to Sabah on Feb 17.
However, the highly-anticipated announcement did not materialise, leaving BN leaders red-faced and grassroots supporters disgruntled.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said that the RCI would serve no purpose and would harm the BN no matter what the the commission’s findings were.
“If the findings fall in favour of the government, the opposition will say it’s manipulated and if it is against, the government will get it in the neck,” he said.
Mahathir has been accused of engineering an illegal but systematic granting of citizenship to immigrants to alter the state’s racial and religious demography to cement political support for the BN, a claim that he vehemently denies. – Mkini