Ambiga seeks RCI into citizenship-for-votes claims

By Melissa Chi, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 12 — Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan today pushed for the establishment of a royal panel to investigate claims the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) has been fast-tracking citizenship applications for foreigners in return for their votes.

The prominent lawyer and civil rights activist noted the federal government has been plagued by such claims recently and that the allegations persist despite repeated denials by its officials.

“I’m sorry but to me that’s the highest treason to this country, that we are registering foreigners as citizens for the purposes of voting,” the prominent civil rights activist told a bipartisan parliamentary select committee (PSC) on electoral reform.

“If that is the case and if there is evidence, then we must have a Royal Commission to examine this,” she proposed to the nine-man panel on Day Two of its public hearing.

A unit of the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office had allegedly posted on its official website last September 17 that its citizens who are working in Malaysia had been asked to vote for the ruling BN coalition in exchange for fast-tracked citizenship requests.

The allegation triggered a public uproar prompting an Opposition MP to moot the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the issue.

Both Putrajaya and Dhaka — the latter through its High Commission here — have denied the claims.

The controversial webpage has since disappeared from the Bangladesh NGO Affairs’ Bureau’s official website.