KOTA KINABALU: A retired banker told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) that Sabah’s founding father Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun had initiated a scheme to “Malaysianise” immigrants and make them voters.
Former Bank Pembangunan Kota Kinabalu branch manager Mat Swadi Alwi said the move was part of a move for Mustapha’s then ailing Parti Usno, a Barisan Nasional component party, to wrest power from the ruling Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) in the 1990 polls.
Testifying as the commission’s 200th witness, Mat Swadi alleged that Mustapha initiated the scheme that came to be known as "Projek IC" in 1988-1989 with the full knowledge of the then Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Megat Junid Megat Ayob.
Responding to a question from Conducting Officer Jamil Aripin, he described himself as the "grand mastermind" of the scheme that saw some 15,000 immigrants being given identity cards and being signed up as voters.
Mat Swadi said he worked closely with former Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) director Datuk Abdul Rauf Sani in arranging the issuance of the identity cards to foreigners.
He said the 15,000 were among the 20,000 new voters that appeared in the electoral rolls just before the election with the remaining 5,000 comprising civil servants such as teachers as well as military and police and their spouses apart from Felda settlers.
Mat Swadi said once the identity cards were issued to the immigrants, his subsequent task then was to receive copies of the documents at a special operations room in Kuala Lumpur.
The “new voters’’ would then be ‘’deployed’’ to top up the Muslim bumiputera voters at key constituencies such as Papar, Inanam and Tuaran.
‘’Say for example if Usno lost to PBS in the 1996 election by 1,000 votes in Papar, we would send just over a 1,000 new voters there to ensure victory for Usno,’’ he said.
He said he quit the scheme abruptly sometime in 1990 when the then Election Commission secretary called him and pointed out that up to 20 voters were sharing the same identity card number.
"I was frustrated. It was obvious there was abuse going on,’’ Mat Swadi said in adding that he was aware of instances of Malaysian identity cards being sold.
Questioned by Jamil whether he had ever received instructions from (former Prime Minister) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Mat Swadi said: “I never met him.’’