Boo Su-Lyn and Emily Ding, TMI
About 500,000 blue identity cards (ICs) were given to Filipino and Indonesian immigrants in Sabah in the early 1990s under the orders of then-Sabah Umno chief Tun Datu Mustapha Harun, a former Umno member said today.
Siti Aminah Mahmud, who worked voluntarily in the Umno office in Kota Kinabalu, said today that the now-deceased Mustapha, who was the third chief minister of Sabah from 1967 to 1975, had told her that the ICs were issued to overthrow the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) government.
“Datu Mustapha said this is (Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad)’s project. Don’t be afraid of getting caught,” Siti Aminah told a press conference at the PKR headquarters here today, relating Mustapha’s briefing to her and other Umno members in Kota Kinabalu in 1990.
“Datu Mustapha said it was to increase the number of Malay voters to take down PBS,” added the 62-year-old woman.
About 500,000 blue ICs were given to Filipino and Indonesian immigrants in Sabah in the early 1990s. Siti Aminah said that she and other Umno members worked together with the National Registration Department (NRD) and village heads to issue about 500,000 blue ICs to Filipino and Indonesian immigrants from 1990 to 1994 in several areas of Sabah, including Tawau, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kota Kinabalu, and Semporna.
She added that she was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) from 1995 to 1997 for allegedly issuing fake ICs and falsifying NRD documents.
The 1994 Sabah state election saw PBS winning just 25 of the 48 state assembly seats.
But several PBS assemblymen defected to Barisan Nasional (BN) shortly after, causing the collapse of the PBS government.
Mustapha, who had founded the United Sabah National Organisation (USNO), is considered Sabah’s father of independence for his role in negotiating the state’s independence in 1963, before dying in 1995 at the age of 76.
USNO joined forces with former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh’s Berjaya to form Sabah Umno after PBS defeated Berjaya in the 1990 state election.
Dr Mahathir, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister who was in power from 1981 to 2003, has been accused of spearheading the so-called “Project IC”, in which citizenship was allegedly given to immigrants for their votes.
Dr Mahathir told a press conference last month that foreigners in Sabah had indeed received citizenship, but stressed that it was “within the law”.
Harris, who administered the state from 1976 to 1985, has denied at the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the illegal immigrant problem in Sabah of the existence of “Project IC”.
More than a quarter of Sabah’s population are foreigners, totalling a staggering 889,000 out of the 3.2 million-strong population in Sabah, or about 28 per cent, based on a 2010 census.
Sabah has 926,638 voters, according to a June report in English-language daily The Star.
Siti Aminah said today that one IC number would be issued to 20 or 30 people.
“One address is also used by 20 people,” she said.
“In one area, there’ll be a leader who will gather people. Once we reach, we’ll get their names. We don’t ask about their religions. We’ll see if they have Muslim names. If they don’t, we’ll change their names to Muslim names. Then we’ll take their pictures and thumb prints and send it to the Umno office,” she added.
Siti Aminah said the blue ICs would be processed in about a month and delivered in sacks to village heads.
“We’ll tell the village head, ‘Tok, please instruct the villagers to vote for Umno’,” she added.
Siti Aminah, who is now a PKR member, said she was unaware if the immigrants had paid for the ICs.
Senior Special Branch officer Supt Ahmad Fauzan Mohamad testified at the RCI last week that a syndicate involving then-Sabah NRD directors had made at least RM11 million from selling ICs to illegal immigrants in Sabah.
He also said that none of the 94 people, who were arrested under the ISA from 1995 to 2001 for their involvement in the syndicate, were ever charged in court.
Then-Sabah NRD director Ramli Kamarudin told the RCI last month that then-Deputy Home Minister, the late Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub, had ordered him to issue NRD receipts, which matched the names and IC numbers of registered voters, to immigrants.
Ramli had said that about 200 NRD receipts were issued in five or six state constituencies each, which the government considered difficult to win, before the 1994 Sabah state election.
Siti Aminah said she has not yet been called to testify at the RCI.
She also stressed that Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who was then Dr Mahathir’s deputy, was never mentioned in “Project IC”.
“Anwar had fought with Datu Mustapha and Megat Junid over Project IC,” she said.
Siti Aminah also said that according to Mustapha, “Project IC” started during Harris’ administration and was codenamed “03”, as well as “04” and “05” during Mahathir’s administration.