Citizenship Must Come First – RCI Report


(The Borneo Post) – Citizenship must come first before the issuance of the Malaysian identity card (IC), as stated in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report on illegal immigrants in Sabah in its findings.

It is legally wrong to confer instant citizenship on an immigrant without going through the legal process, the panel said, citing the submission by the Sabah Law Association (SLA).

In its report, the panel said there are four ways by which a person can acquire Malaysian citizenship, namely, by operation of law; registration; naturalization; and incorporation of new territory into the Federation (of Malaysia).

Dato Jariah binti Mohd Said, the Director-General of National Registration, had testified that according to National Registration’s (NRD) records at present, the number of new ICs issued to immigrants is 67,675 and the number of immigrants in Sabah who have been granted citizenship since 1963 as at August 31, 2013 is 68,608.

These official figures provide the answer to paragraph (a) of the RCI’s term of reference (TOR), that is, to enquire into the number of immigrants in Sabah who have been issued with blue identification cards or citizenship.

But Suhakam’s estimates on the number of immigrants being issued with Malaysian ICs, both legally and illegally, derived from Dr Chong Eng Leong’s calculation and others, have far exceeded those given by Jariah.

The RCI panel dispelled the misconception by many people that the blue IC is proof of Malaysian citizen.

“It is not. It is merely evidence of Malaysian citizenship. One has to be a Malaysian citizen first before being entitled to a Malaysian IC. Malaysian citizenship is obtained mainly by operation of law or by naturalization or by registration,”it said.

In its report, the RCI also mentioned that there was a total of 113,850 ICs being considered as problematic – divided into two groups.

One group was known as P1, containing full records indicating that their ICs were issued on the basis of surat sumpah or statutory declarations certifying that the applicants were born in Sabah. There were 51,300 such ICs.

The second group known as P2 were ICs which did not contain full records except photocopies. There was no information as to whether Surat Akuan or birth certificates were used to support the applications. Their numbers also overlapped. There was duplication in the records, etc. There were 62,550 recorded under this P2 group.

Apparently, there was a third group of documents, P3, and this group comprised of temporary receipt of ICs containing seven digits.

The NRD found no difficulty in cancelling those falling under group P3 which numbered 16,699. Clearly, this group P3 was issued not in accordance with the law.

As against the official figures given on groups P1, P2 and P3, unofficial figures were given by the then UPKO president, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, that the figures for P1 was 177,785; for P2 it was about 62,546, and for P3 it was 16,695.

While, Datuk Radin Malleh, a vice president of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), gave another set of figures, for P1 group it was 51,300 and for P2, it was 62,575.

The procedures adopted by the authorities appeared to be in order, said the RCI panel in reference to its TOR (b), i.e. to enquire whether the issuance of blue identification cards or citizenship to immigrants in Sabah is in accordance with the law.

“What was wrong, as disclosed by the evidence, was that the procedures had been abused by applicants giving inaccurate information, and thereafter, the certification of such information by certain village heads, native chiefs, district chiefs, etc.

“The use of statutory declarations or surat akuan had in fact facilitated and accentuated such abuses,” the panel stated.

It was also stated in the panel’s report that based on testimonies of several immigrants, it was quite obvious that these illegal immigrants had not qualified as Malaysian citizens to be registered as voters.

“They had obtained their ICs based on false information. We understand that their names are still in the electoral rolls. If not rectified, this can have serious repercussions,”it said, citing the testimony of Malleh that there are apparently 82,620 dubious IC holders listed in the electoral rolls.

And Dr Chong has maintained that, on his calculations, there are still at least 200,000 names in the electoral rolls which are not supposed to be there.

“In summary therefore, on the evidence as a whole, the answer to TOR paragraph (c) is that there are non-citizens registered in the electoral rolls, but their exact numbers are uncertain,” the panel concluded.

Given the abuses committed by syndicates and/or individuals on the procurement processes concerning Malaysian ICs and other documents, the panel said the NRD had attempted over the years to enhance its system progressively.

In 1996, the NRD set up a high-powered panel to investigate some 113,850 so-called problematic ICs purportedly issued by syndicates and/or individuals. The high-powered panel had received 8,887 applications since 2006, and out of this number 3,895 applications were approved and another 5,192 rejected.

The NRD had also taken concrete steps to improve its standard operating procedures with respect to issuance of ICs by updating their format and type with better and more effective security features.

A special unit for Sabah and Sarawak has been established to act as secretariat to a special committee responsible for dealing with problematic IC applications in the two states.

More importantly, NRD has now set up mobile units tasked with conducting registration exercises relating to birth, marriages and deaths in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak.

Equally significant is the introduction of the Agency Link-Up Information System or ALIS, in which several agencies, including the NRD, the Election Commission, the Police, etc can have joint access to relevant information and data for verification purposes.

By taking advantage of ALIS to verify any information it considers doubtful and suspect, the Election Commission had removed more than 78,340 names from the Sabah electoral rolls on account of them being deceased.

Between May 4 and May 27, 2010, a special workshop on foreigners was organised by the NRD, Sabah for the purpose of reviewing, analysing and presenting proposals to the government for more efficient and effective mechanism in managing foreigners in Sabah, including matters relating to various types of documents issued to foreigners in Sabah.

The RCI said the workshop came up with a host of proposals. Most important was the proposal for the establishment of a high-powered Permanent Secretariat to be headed by the Deputy Prime Minister assisted by the Minister of Home Affairs and the Chief Minister of Sabah.

Another significant proposal was the introduction of a Resident Pass to rationalize the various documents currently in use by foreigners/immigrants.