Royal Commission of Inquiry into Illegal Immigrants gone full circle – from skepticism of the public when announced, to high hopes raised during public hearings, to dashed hopes and back to even deeper skepticism after RCIIIS Report
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS) has gone full circle.
It was met with skepticism from the public when the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the setting up of the RCI, taking seven long months from the Cabinet decision on 8th Feb. 2012 to set it up for the RCI to be appointed with its eight-point terms of reference.
But high hopes were raised that the RCIIIS would not be a “white-wash” when the RCI conducted its public hearings from January to September 2013 , with explosive testimonies from some of the 211 witnesses, confirming long-held negative public perceptions that the influx of illegal immigrants in Sabah and the issue of hundreds of thousands of fake identity cards and voting rights particularly under “Project IC” was part of a political conspiracy to change the political demography in Sabah, reducing native Sabahans into strangers in their own land.
When the Report of the RCIIIS was finally made public on Dec. 3, after being put in the cold-storage for more than six months after submission to the Yang di Pertuan Agong on May 14, 2014, public disbelief, dismay and disquiet enveloped Sabahans – with “dashed hopes” and the return of even deeper skepticism.
This is because the RCIIIS Report failed its eight terms of reference and did not come out with any Recommendations for the government to implement – which is why there is the ludicrous Cabinet decision to set up a Working Committee of the RCIIIS Report under Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to find out what are the recommendations from the RCIIIS Report, and then to submit a report to the Permanent Committee of the RCIIIS Report which will decide whether to submit the Working Committee’s report to the Cabinet for action.
The people of Sabah and Malaysia are again being taken for a ride by the UMNO/Barisan Nasional government, creating one committee after another to further procrastinate resolution on the issue, while the influx of illegal immigrants continue unchecked and the electoral rolls in Sabah continue to be contaminated by illegal immigrants and non-citizens.
It is indeed shocking and unbelievable that the RCIIIS Report made no recommendations whatsoever against the wrongdoers, as asking the Police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, and the Federal Attorney-General to further investigate those civil servants and political leaders alleged to be involved in the illegal issuance of identity cards to illegal immigrants to acquire voting rights, and to charge them in court for their actions if there is sufficient evidence.
The evidence produced at the RCIIIS public hearings show deplorable weaknesses in three government agencies, viz:
- Immigration Department – allowing hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants to enterSabah illegally with ease and to roam about without any hindrance, as well asthe issue of immigration documents such as IMM 13 contravening the law;
- The National Registration Department – the high-handed and unlawful manner in which identity cards were issued to tens and even hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants without proper and valid supporting documents.This is in contrast to the great difficulty faced by native Sabahans, especially those in the interior, in getting identity cards.
- Election Commission – allowing people holding illegally issued identity cards to be registered as voters without proper procedure to verify whether they were genuine citizens of Malaysia.
Has the RCIIIS come out with Recommendations and a Plan of Action to end the influx of illegal immigrants, revoke identity cards issued illegally, ensure a clean and untainted electoral roll in Sabah and to punish those who had acted unlawfully, whether through abuse of power or corruption, in the massive issue of illegal identity cards?
In his testimony before the RCIIIS, PBS President and Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan stressed the importance of political will in resolving the four-decade long nightmare of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
The question now is whether Joseph Pairin, as Chairman of the Working Committee on the RCIIIS Report, will have the political will to take firm, immediate and effective action to propose within a month a Plan of Action to resolve once-and-for-all the 40-year-old Nightmare of the Illegal Immigrants problem in Sabah?