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Saturday August 17, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Saturday August 17, 2013 MYT 7:29:54 AM
by ruben sario
KOTA KINABALU: Former Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin has rubbished claims linking him to “Projek IC”, in which thousands of foreigners in Sabah are said to have been issued with Malaysian identity cards.
Testifying at the Royal Commission of Inquiry hearing on Sabah’s illegal immigrant problem yesterday, he denied owning a house at Kampung Pandan in Kuala Lumpur where the ICs were allegedly processed.
He said this when asked by conducting officer Datuk Azmi Ariffin on the testimony of former senior Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) officer Yakup Damsah, who had said he was instructed by the then Sabah NRD director to fly to Kuala Lumpur and sign thousands of forms at a Kampung Pandan house used by Shamsuddin.
“The house concerned is a bungalow. I am just staying in a terrace house,” said Aziz, who served as political secretary to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad from 1981 to 2000.
Asked if he knew anything about the issuance of Malaysian identity cards to foreigners, Aziz said: “To me, everything must be done according to the law. Anything that occurred in that department had nothing to do with me.”
On whether he knew any government involvement in the issuance of ICs to foreigners, he replied: “Those eligible should be allowed to become citizens and those who are not eligible, should not get them.”
Former Sandakan district chief Asainar @ Hassanal MP Ebrahim testified that the exercise to approve the ICs to foreigners in Sabah was orchestrated in the mid-1980s to give political advantage to the Muslim community.
He said the ICs were given mostly to Muslim refugees who fled the southern Philippines in the early 1970s, with as many as 138,000 of the cards given out since then.
He said he came to know of this figure from former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who was well aware of the plan to alter the state’s voter demographics through the issuance of the ICs to foreigners.
Hassanal said prior to that, there was an almost equal number of Muslim and non-Muslim voters in Sabah, with the Chinese regarded as kingmakers.
He said the operation to approve ICs to foreigners began when Berjaya was still in power and after Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) won the state polls in 1985 and in 1986.
“Prior to 1985, the exercise was to ensure that the Muslims remained in power and after 1986, it was for the community to wrest power from PBS,” he said, adding that this had caused a social and economic backlash to Sabahans.
The hearing resumes on Sept 9.
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