CYBERJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) justified the stand to give foreigners in Sabah identity cards if they had lived in Malaysia for many years and as a local.
The former prime minister said on Saturday that it was the Government’s policy to recognise people who are loyal to the country, adding it was not fair to disallow their children from attending Malaysian schools.
“These people, especially the Bajau, called both the Philippines and Sabah their home back when there were no borders.
“When the borders are created, some of these Bajau from the Philippines lived in Sabah and continue to do so for 30 years.
“But they are not regarded as Malaysians and their children cannot go to school. Yet they speak the same language and are like locals, so it is not fair,” said Dr Mahathir, during a question-and-answer session at the What Youths Should Know leadership conference here.
He was asked to respond on the controversial ‘Project IC’ in Sabah by a Sabahan participant, which occurred during his tenure as prime minister.
“It is the Government’s policy to recognise people who are loyal to this country, people who are truly Malaysians in all ways, except for a citizenship certificate. They deserve to be given citizenship.
“But somewhere along the line, some officers in the Immigration Department saw a chance to make money and started selling ICs. This is where it went wrong, and it is not government policy to sell ICs.
“But these people have been arrested and charged. This is on record.
“Do you mean to say that people who live in this country for so many years cannot be considered for citizenship? Of course, many Sabahans do not want these foreigners in their state.
“But they are foreigners for as long as you call them foreigners. But if they grow up as Malaysians, then they should be considered as Malaysians,” said Dr Mahathir.