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Thread: Sabah: US Embassy - RCI on Sabah PTI unlikely

   
   
       
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    Sabah: US Embassy - RCI on Sabah PTI unlikely

    RCI on Sabah illegal migrants unlikely, says cable

    Joseph Sipalan
    Sep 3, 11
    2:01pm

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    A confidential US embassy cable puts little hope in the possibility of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Sabah's illegal immigrant problem, blaming it on the vested interests of "Mahathir-era politicians" in the state.


    The cable, posted online by Wikileaks, alleged that the federal government and Umno had actively facilitated the issuance of Malaysian documents to illegal immigrants in exchange for political support.



    The cable went on to claim that a retired senior intelligence official "frankly admitted" that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed's (right) administration had "facilitated illegal immigration" from neighbouring Indonesia and the Philippines to "better balance the state's ethnic and religious equation".

    The retired official allegedly said that this was a preventive measure to "ward off any future separatist sentiments in Sabah, in addition to attracting Umno votes needed to control the state".

    "A Royal Commission, operated properly, would likely expose the depth of Umno and BN's political corruption and vote manipulation, further inciting Sabahans," stated the cable, dated Sept 5, 2008.

    Sabah politicians and activists have long been demanding that the federal government fulfil its responsibilities in helping solve this long-standing issue, with many claiming that it started to get out of hand during the 1994 state elections when the then opposition PBS was toppled by the BN after a nine-year rule.

    Among the demands put forward was for a RCI to be formed to probe the root causes of the state's burgeoning illegal immigrant problem.


    The latest call came from Upko president and Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Bernard Dompok, following the purported installation of a Sabah businessman as the Sultan of Sulu.

    Crackdown on illegals 'political band aid'



    This was, however, not the first time Dompok (right) had demanded a RCI, with the cable stating that he had told US embassy officials back in 2008 that the Royal Commission is needed to find out who are issuing Malaysian documents to illegal immigrants for any action to be effective.

    Describing the periodic operations against the illegal migrants in Sabah as "political band aid", the cable pointed out that Sabahans "see the immigrants being deported as 'low hanging fruit', enabling authorities to demonstrate that they are 'doing something' about it".

    The cable also quoted the then Suhakam vice-chairperson Simon Sipaun, who cited estimates of around 1.9 million illegals and/or undocumented people living in Sabah, far higher than the federal government's official estimates of 240,000.

    Another person quoted in the cable, Muhammad Radzi Jamaludin who was principal assistant secretary in the Foreign Affairs Ministry's Southeast Asia division, allegedly conceded to US embassy officials that many Filipinos deported from Sabah returned after just "a couple weeks".

    He added that some Malaysian women falsely claim Filipino citizenship, only to announce they are Malaysians upon reaching the Philippines and that they wanted to stay with their husbands, who were being deported.

    Govt accused of 'selective crackdown'

    The cable concluded that the federal government crackdowns on illegal immigrants in Sabah have been "selective" and "explicitly avoids raids on key areas of migrant employment" such as manufacturing, logging, palm oil plantations and service industries, "which could be forced to curtail operations without their illegal migrant workers".

    A local journalist met by US embassy officials allegedly told them that an earlier damping down "that proved too effective" in detaining illegal immigrants after local business leaders complained and the police official who planned the operation was punished and transferred.

    "Sabahans consider illegal immigration a major concern, even though important segments of the state's economy are highly dependent on cheap migrant labour.

    "Many view illegal immigrants, especially Filipino Muslims, as upsetting the political balance in Sabah, whose native majority is Catholic.

    "The lack of enthusiasm among Sabahans for current illegal immigrant crackdown illustrates the overall mistrust of the BN government and its peninsular-centric policies," the cable said.
    py

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    Action on RCI report must take a rights-based, reasonable and realistic approach – Eric Paulsen

    Published: 4 December 2014Lawyers for Liberty welcomes the release of the Report of the Commission of Enquiry on Immigrants in Sabah as a major step forward in tackling the thorny issue of migration in Sabah.

    Although the report is short on recommendation, it is understandable in light of the complexity of the issues and Terms of Reference. Of particular concern is the finding that “it was more likely than not, that Project IC did exist” i.e. the systemic incorporation of irregular immigrants through dubious documentations and facilitating their access to become registered voters and possibly determine political outcomes in Sabah.

    The seriousness of migration problems and in particular Project IC cannot be understated and we urge the authorities to take steps to implement the recommendation to set up a Permanent Secretariat and a Management Committee on Foreigners or Consultative Council on Immigrants/Foreigners in order to further inquire and deliberate on the many pressing issues raised in the report.

    However, in doing so, we urge the authorities to be objective, take a rights-based, reasonable and realistic approach and not let prejudicial, populist or xenophobic sentiments cloud their judgement.

    This is because there will be serious repercussions on the lives and human rights of some of the most vulnerable people in Sabah including undocumented women and street children of refugee/migrant descent.

    Many live in poverty and a life of exploitation, unable to access basic social services but are also unfairly blamed and easily targeted by politicians for social ills in the state.

    It goes without saying that all citizenship matters, including grant of citizenship, identity documents and registration in the electoral roll must be conducted properly and in accordance with established laws, regulations and practices and not through corrupt practices, fraud or for improper political gains.

    Standard operating procedures must be tightened to ensure that only those who are genuinely eligible can benefit from citizenship matters. Those who perpetrate or facilitate such illegal acts, particularly government officials, local leaders, fixers and middle men, politicians and their workers must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    While the issues at stake are serious and have far reaching consequences, the citizenship and fundamental human rights of persons should not be discarded just because it may now be politically convenient to do so.

    In our endeavour to enquire into wrongful past practices, we must be mindful these are generations of migrants and refugees with varying histories and circumstances, many of whom have permanently settled in Sabah, intermarried, born or lived all their lives in the state.

    Consequently, these people may have properly acquired citizenship or permanent resident status and all the accompanying rights.

    They have a relevant and genuine link with Sabah/Malaysia (through birth, habitual residence, descent, marriage or naturalisation) and rights under Malaysian and international law including not to be made stateless, freedom from arbitrary arrest/detention, torture, inhumane and other degrading treatment and right to life. – December 4, 2014.

    * Eric Paulsen is executive director of Lawyers for Liberty.

    * This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
    Last edited by pywong; 4th December 2014 at 08:18 PM.
    py

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    Charge officials who gave citizenship, identity cards to foreigners, says Sabah politician

    BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
    Published: 4 December 2014



    Home Ministry officials, responsible for issuing citizenship and identity cards to foreigners in Sabah, must be prosecuted if Putrajaya is serious about accepting the recommendations by the Royal Commission of Inquiry to manage foreigners in the state, Sabah opposition leader Datuk Seri Panglima Lajim Ukin (pic) said.


    The Klias assemblyman said these culprits contributed to the threat posed to Sabah's security and public order by allowing indiscriminate entry of foreigners, especially those from Indonesia and the Philippines.


    "Some of the culprits are still around although the problem started a long time ago. Those responsible must be hauled up to serve as a deterrent to others," he said.


    Lajim admitted he had yet to read the full report but understood that from the little information obtained, the solution to existing problems remained sketchy.


    "It is pointless to have 'decorative' permanent management committee and management panel if Putrajaya is only going to provide lip service," he said.


    The report released in Kota Kinabalu yesterday said 67,675 illegal immigrants were given identity cards while another 68,703 were issued outright citizenship over the last 50 years.


    It revealed that syndicates and those with help from corrupt officials set up "Project IC" in Sabah for a political agenda and money.


    The report, however, did not name any guilty parties as it was not within the commission's scope of duties, as stated in the terms of reference (TOR).


    Lajim said the solution lies with Putrajaya as the issuance of citizenship and identity cards was under the purview of the Home Ministry.


    "It has been proven that the Sabah government alone could not do much to overcome the entry and repatriation of illegal foreigners," he said.


    The former Parti Bersatu Sabah member said this in reference to a committee that was set up when the party was in power between 1985 and 1984.


    He said the committee was a "lame duck" due to the indifference shown by the federal government.


    Lajim said the influx of foreigners to the state was now also a national problem.


    "Children of second and third generation of foreigners who entered Sabah have migrated to the peninsula in search of job opportunities.


    "Some even came here and committed serious crimes," he added.


    Meanwhile, Lawyers for Liberty said the RCI's recommendations seemed to have fallen short of expectations as there were no concrete proposals.


    "However, this is understandable because it involve decades of wrongdoing, secrecy and abuse of power by government officials," its executive director Eric Paulsen said.


    He said many foreigners had been improperly granted identity cards and citizenship over the last 50 years.


    Nonetheless, he said these generation of migrants with varying history and circumstances had permanently settled in Sabah, inter-married and their children were born in the state.


    "Consequently, these people may have properly acquired citizenship or permanent resident status and all accompanying rights.


    "Therefore, despite their problematic origin, they may now be a relevant link with Sabah and Malaysia, and have rights under international law not be made stateless persons," he added.


    Paulsen said there must be due process and natural justice before any drastic action was taken against individuals although no one would condone fraudulent or corrupt practices that led to ineligible people being granted citizenship and identity cards.


    The RCI was formed on August 11, 2012 to investigate the problems relating to citizenship and immigrants in Sabah.


    The inquiry was closely related to Project IC, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners.


    The RCI began its public hearing at the Kota Kinabalu Court Complex on January 14 last year with a five-member panel led by former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.


    Other panel members were Datuk Saripuddin Kasim, who is the secretary-general of the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry; Datuk Dr Kamaruzaman Ampon, former Universiti Malaysia Sabah vice-chancellor; Tan Sri Herman Luping, former Sabah state attorney-general; Datuk K.Y. Mustafa, former Sabah state secretary; and Datuk Henry Chin Poy Wu, deputy chairman of the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation.


    A total of 211 witnesses were called to testify at the hearing that ended on September 20, 2013.


    Among them were former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Yong Teck Lee, former senator Dr Chong Eng Leong, and former Internal Security Act detainee Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.


    During the inquiry, the RCI was told that in 1996, the National Registration Department (NRD) staff were among 94 detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for wrongful issuance of Malaysian identity cards. – December 4, 2014.
    py

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    Recall all illegally issued identity cards, says Sabah opposition leader

    Published: 4 December 2014

    Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing claims the BN government has known all along on the existence of immigrants in Sabah being given ICs illegally through the NRD. – The Malaysian Insider pic, December 4, 2014.All the identity cards which were illegally issued in Sabah should be immediately recalled and replaced with a visiting pass pending an investigation, the former state deputy chief minister said.


    Datuk Seri Wilfred M.Bumburing said he could not accept the explanation that it was difficult to locate those holding illegal identity cards.


    "The National Registration Department (NRD) knows the details of these identity cards. They can just declare these identity cards illegal," he said n a statement today.


    Bumburing, the Tamparuli state assemblyman and leader of the opposition Angkatan Perubahan Sabah or Sabah Movement for Change, said the NRD could ask those people concerned to surrender the identity cards or face arrest and deportation.


    Although this would involve expenditure, Bumburing said it had to be done to protect Malaysia's sovereignty and to reflect Putrajaya's political will and sincerity.


    The findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah was released yesterday and Putrajaya pledged to accept the recommendations.


    Bumburing said the RCI findings were a great disappointment to the people of Sabah, especially when the issuance of illegal identity cards involved corrupt civil servants acting under specific instructions.


    "The evidence provided by so many witnesses during the hearing proved beyond any reasonable doubt that government elements are involved in the project either directly or indirectly.


    "If Putrajaya had found out that foreigners obtained identity cards illegally, then why did it not confiscate those documents and charge those concerned?


    "Giving identity cards to foreigners is a grave act of treason and the full force of the law should have been applied."


    He said Putrajaya's non-action on this matter all these years only showed that the officials involved received orders from the government.


    Bumburing said it was difficult to believe that Putrajaya had failed to notice the hundreds of thousands of identity cards which had been issued illegally.


    He also pointed out that although civil servants had been arrested, they were detained under the Internal Security Act and not charged in court.


    He also dismissed the setting up of the Permanent Committee of Foreign Migrants in Sabah, saying it would not solve the issue of illegal identity cards.


    "The committee might be useful for future cases but what about the past?" he asked, reiterating that there must be drastic and immediate action from Putrajaya.


    Bumburing said there should be a committee which comprised all the stakeholders in Sabah.


    "I support the recommendation on the setting up of a consultative council on immigrants/foreigners headed by and comprising non-partisan persons."


    "This committee must be accorded full power from Parliament." – December 4, 2014.
    py

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    Philippines urges humanitarian approach to illegal immigrants issue in Sabah

    Published: 4 December 2014



    The RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah report document which was released yesterday. – The Malaysian Insider pic, December 4, 2014.Any action by Putrajaya to resolve the illegal immigrants issue in Sabah should be on humanitarian grounds and remedial, the Philippines embassy in Kuala Lumpur said today.


    In a brief statement, the embassy noted the release of the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah.


    "As Philippine officials have consistently stated in the past, we urge that any measure to be undertaken should be inclusive, humanitarian, remedial and with due regard for the welfare of the vulnerable sectors of Sabah’s society," the embassy said.


    "We are studying the report and its recommendations as well as their implications," the embassy added.


    The report released in Kota Kinabalu yesterday revealed that 67,675 illegal immigrants were given blue or citizen identity cards and another 68,703 given outright citizenship.


    The RCI was formed on August 11, 2012 to investigate the problems relating to citizenship and immigrants in Sabah.


    The inquiry was closely related to Project IC, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners.


    The RCI began its public hearing at the Kota Kinabalu Court Complex on January 14 last year with a five-member panel led by former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.


    Other panel members were Datuk Saripuddin Kasim, who is the Secretary General of the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry; Datuk Dr Kamaruzaman Ampon, former Universiti Malaysia Sabah vice-chancellor; Tan Sri Herman Luping, former Sabah State Attorney-General; Datuk K.Y.Mustafa, former Sabah State Secretary; and Datuk Henry Chin Poy Wu, deputy chairman of the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation.


    A total of 211 witnesses were called to testify at the hearing that ended on September 20, 2013. – December 4, 2014.
    py

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    Let’s tackle Sabah illegal immigrants problem together, state BN tells Pakatan

    Published: 4 December 2014

    Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan from Sabah BN wants the Pakatan Rakyat to stop the blame game and work together to resolve the illegal immigrants issue addressed in the RCI report which was released yesterday. – The Malaysian Insider pic, December 4, 2014.Pakatan Rakyat should not politicise the illegal immigrant issue in Sabah but instead work with Putrajaya to overcome the problem, a Barisan Nasional leader said today.


    Following the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Sabah illegal immigrants, state Barisan Nasional secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said the blame had been going on for at least 30 years.


    "While the blame game continues, our borders continue to bleed," Rahman, who is also the federal Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, said in a statement today, adding that everyone had a stake in the issue.


    He said it was important to reprioritise efforts into more constructive areas and find practical solutions.


    He said the blame game had cost too much time and stifled progress in moving forward.


    "I therefore plead with the opposition to work with Putrajaya to find ways to overcome this issue. Let's not politicise the issue any longer.


    "This issue is about the future of the state and its people and all of us, the people, the government and the opposition, have a stake in it. The sooner we cooperate, the better."


    Rahman expressed confidence that both Putrajaya and Pakatan Rakyat could come up with rational and practical ideas to deal with this problem if they put their heads together.


    "So let us start by asking ourselves this very important question, 'What can I do to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem?'"


    The RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah has attracted a lot of criticism from Pakatan Rakyat, especially over the alleged Project IC.


    Under Project IC, illegal immigrants were issued identity cards indiscriminately in return for voting for Barisan Nasional during general elections, especially in the past 25 years, after the state fell to the then opposition Parti Bersatu Sabah in the 1980s.


    More than 200 witnesses were called up by the five-men RCI panel, led by former Sabah and Sarawak Chief Justice Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.


    "I would like to reiterate that the focus, especially for Sabahans, must centre on the need to move forward," Rahman said.


    "Efforts must be directed towards what we are to do next rather than on finger-pointing and dwelling on the past.


    "It is only with a proactive mindset that Sabah will be able to move forward and achieve the kind of progress that it wants to achieve."


    However, Rahman said Sabahans also had to play their part in resolving the issue of illegal immigrants.


    "Without knowing it, we have been part of the problem, too. For example, Sabahans must rise to the challenge of moving away from the false comfort of hiring illegal foreign cheap labour.


    "We complain of their existence but have no qualms giving them jobs because of the cheap labour cost they bring to the table."


    Rahman said that although hiring Malaysians would raise the cost of doing business, it was a sacrifice worth making for long-term gains.


    He admitted that hiring locals for less desirable jobs, such as in the construction and plantation industries, would require a significant policy redirection by Putrajaya.


    He added that looking for the culprits responsible for the influx of illegal immigrants into Sabah was also important as it would bring emotional closure.


    However, Rahman pointed out that many of the culprits had been apprehended and detained under the Internal Security Act in the 1990s.


    "I am sure if the authorities find more evidence, they will act accordingly. In the meantime, the blitz on illegal colonies should continue and deportation must be done regularly."


    Yesterday, Putrajaya said it will form a permanent committee and a management committee to deal with the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah.


    Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman and Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will chair the permanent committee while Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan will head the management panel.


    Pairin's panel will study issues raised in the Royal Commission of Inquiry report on Sabah illegal immigrants and then make recommendations "to the permanent committee".


    The report released in Kota Kinabalu yesterday revealed that 67,675 illegal immigrants were given blue or citizen identity cards and another 68,703 given outright citizenship.


    The RCI was formed on August 11, 2012 to investigate the problems relating to citizenship and immigrants in Sabah.


    The inquiry was closely related to Project IC, the alleged systematic granting of citizenship to foreigners.


    The RCI began its public hearing at the Kota Kinabalu Court Complex on January 14 last year.


    Besides Shim, other panel members were Datuk Saripuddin Kasim, who is the Secretary General of the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry; Datuk Dr Kamaruzaman Ampon, former Universiti Malaysia Sabah vice-chancellor; Tan Sri Herman Luping, former Sabah State Attorney-General; Datuk K.Y.Mustafa, former Sabah State Secretary; and Datuk Henry Chin Poy Wu, deputy chairman of the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation. – December 4, 2014
    py

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