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Friday September 20, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday September 20, 2013 MYT 8:33:45 AM
by ruben sario
210th witness : Anwar leaving the Kota Kinabalu High Court after testifying at the RCI.
KUALA LUMPUR: There was no secret project by the Government to grant citizenship status to foreigners in the country, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
In fact, he pointed out, citizenship was granted according to the country’s legal process and the Federal Constitution, and other countries, too, offered citizenship according to their respective terms.
“(Former Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had replied clearly in the RCI (Royal Commission of Inquiry) that there was no secret project that we (the Government) had undertaken.
“Whatever it is, those who became the country’s citizens did so according to the legal process of the country based on the Federal Constitution.
“But if one were to say that there was a secret project, that is not true,” he told reporters after opening the Middle Temple Conference 2013 here yesterday.
He was responding to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s testimony at the RCI on illegal immigrants in Sabah that the Government under Najib’s leadership knew about the granting of citizenship.
Anwar claimed that there was a shadowy task force involved in issuing Malaysian identification documents to foreigners in Sabah.
He also said that he had no direct involvement in the task force when he was in the Government between 1982 and 1998.
“This group was operating outside the scope of legitimate structure,” said Anwar, the 210th witness to testify before the RCI.
He said he had learnt that this task force was set up in the early 1970s when Tun Razak Hussein was Prime Minister and Tun Datu Mustapha Harun was Sabah Chief Minister.
Responding to questions from conducting officer Manoj Kurup, he said the task force was set up in response to the influx of Filipinos fleeing the insurgency in the southern Philippines.
Anwar said the secretive group was not the federal special task force on Sabah illegal immigrants that was set up in the 1980s.
Anwar said he believed the secretive task force was never disbanded.
“It began under Tun Razak and continued under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak,” he added.
Anwar said he was never involved or officially briefed about the secretive task force nor was he invited to sit in during the meetings of the National Security Council chaired by the Prime Minister.
“I would disagree to any suggestion that the Prime Minister was unaware of this operation. If it involved 5,000 documents, then perhaps yes. But we are talking about hundreds of thousands here,” he added.
When RCI chairman Tan Sri Steve Shim pointed out that the commission had heard evidence that Sabah’s population had grown during the 1990-1995 period coinciding with Umno’s expansion into the state, Anwar said any political party would do whatever was possible within the law to increase its influence.
Anwar, who was Umno vice-president at that time and eventually became party deputy president, said there was never any discussion at Umno supreme council meetings about a project to issue identity cards to foreigners in Sabah.
To another question from lawyer Alex Decena representing the Sabah Law, Anwar said enforcement agencies must be held accountable.
“They cannot allow operations like this to go on with impunity,” Anwar added.
Najib had insisted on the setting up of the RCI to resolve the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah and had on Sept 21 handed over appointment letters to the RCI chairman, who was former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, and other commission members.
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Courts & Crime, ic rci
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