Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where’s the RCI report?

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans are eagerly awaiting to hear and read about the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah.

RCI chairman, former judge Steve Shim, had in September 2013 hinted that a report would be ready by end 2013.
But it’s been almost three weeks since the dawn of the new year and still no news.

The RCI report is a much-anticipated item especially in Sabah which is virtually engulfed with problems related to illegal immigrants from Indonesia and Philippines.
Proceedings of the RCI started at the Kota Kinabalu High Court here last January and ended only in September after 211 witnesses took to the stand.
Among them were former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and several former Chief Ministers of Sabah, including Harris Salleh and Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
Shim in September said the six-man commission would go through huge piles of exhibits tendered throughout the proceedings before they finally come up with a report.
“We hope to complete our findings by December,” he had said then.
On June 1, 2012, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, announced that the federal government had agreed to set up the RCI to investigate problems related to illegal immigration in Sabah including the dubious issuance of Malaysian documents to Muslim illegal immigrants under a scheme known as Project IC.
Many of these documented illegal immigrants had made their way into the Malaysian electoral rolls and even got better treatment than bona fide Malaysians, thanks to the political motives of certain groups especially Umno.
These shocking insights came from testimonies of witnesses.
But both Mahathir and Harris, allegedly key players in the scheme, however were adamant that there was no such “government project” to get Muslim immigrants to flood Sabah, which was once a Christian-majority state.
RCI’s eight terms of reference
Mahathir had testified that if illegal immigrants managed to get Malaysian citizenship, it was done legally according to Malaysian laws and the constitution.
He also denied knowing the existence of “Project IC” as implied or claimed by testimonials of other witnesses.
The RCI was conducted based on a eight terms of reference (TOR). They were:
1. To investigate the number of foreigners in Sabah given blue Malaysian ICs or citizenships;
2. To investigate if the award of such ICs or citizenships were according to the law;
3. To investigate if those given blue ICs, temporary identification receipts or citizenships through unlawful means have been registered in Sabah’s electoral roll;
4. To investigate if the authorities have taken any action or made improvements to standard operating procedures (SOPs), methods and regulations to prevent any irregularities in accordance with the law;
5. To conduct a deeper probe into the SOPs, methods and regulations on the award of blue ICs or citizenships to foreigners in Sabah by taking into consideration international norms and standards that are applicable to Malaysia, and to recommend amendments or changes to improve current practices;
6. To investigate the reasons behind Sabah’s population growth according to the following categories:
a) Sabah citizens residing in the state, including those given blue ICs or citizenships through birth certificates (late registration);
b) foreign workers (including family members);
c) illegal immigrants (including family members); and
d) fugitives and to study their impact on the number of those registered in the electoral roll;
7. To investigate the social implications on the Sabah community following the award of blue ICs or citizenships to foreigners in the state; and
8. To investigate the number of “stateless” foreigners in Sabah given blue ICs or citizenships.
Beside Shim, the other five members of the RCI were Kamaruzaman Ampon, Herman Luping, KY Mustafa, Henry Chin, and Saripuddin Kasim.

No comments: