If the government can form a RCI to probe citizenships given to about 200,000 Sabah immigrants, why not on those pre-independence immigrants? asks the former PM
Athi Shankar, FMT
Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed cynically suggested the federal government form a royal commission of inquiry to probe if the one million “foreigners”, who were given citizenship during independence, were entitled to it.
He suggested for the commission to probe ancestral backgrounds of the “foreigners” to determine on whether they deserved their citizenship.
If the government can form a commission to probe the citizenship given to some 200,000 Sabah immigrants, he asked on “why not on those pre-independence immigrants?”
He told this at a crowded hall when officiating a Perkasa convention on “Penang Malays Economic and Education Transformation” in UiTM campus here today.
Nonetheless he said he was not seriously demanding for such commission, but only wanted certain amount of fair play in such inquiries.
“I’m not serious about it. But they must be fair,” the country’s fourth premier told a press conference later.
Dr Mahathir seemed clearly frustrated by mounting criticisms against him over allegations of a citizenship-for-votes scheme in Sabah that occurred in the 1990s during his premiership.
He said Sabah’s illegal immigrants deserved their citizenships given that the law allowed for it if a person had stayed in the country for more than 10 years.
“It was a co-incidence that they were given citizenship during election time,” Mahathir told newsmen.
Earlier in his keynote address, he said pre-independence immigrants should be grateful to the Malays for their citizenships, given by first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.
Unlike natives of Myanmar and some African nations, he said the Malaya natives, both pribumis and bumis, did not chase out the immigrants when then Malaya got its independence from the British colonial masters.
Ungrateful immigrants plotting to remove Malay privileges
He said the Malays generously allowed the immigrants to be citizens, speak their languages and practise their respective cultures, something that even neighbouring Thai and Indonesian natives failed to do.
Although Malays constituted 80% of Malaya’s voting population during independence time, he claimed that they willingly shared power with the immigrants even though it would reduce their vote bank to 60% and weaken their own political strength.
“We allowed the immigrants to flourish among us and let them even to dominate the economy. We also did not stop their language and cultural growth,” said Mahathir.