Sabah RCI confirmed, scope to be finalised soon, says BN source

By Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 23, 2012

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 23 — Putrajaya is finalising the terms of reference for the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the problem of illegals in Sabah, a state Barisan Nasional (BN) leader has confirmed, dispelling rumours that Datuk Seri Najib Razak had backtracked on the highly-anticipated decision.

The Malaysian Insider was informed that the only reason why the prime minister had not announced the RCI during his visit here last week was to allow for further input from Sabah BN component parties and the state government in the panel’s terms of reference and composition.

Claiming to have sighted the minutes of the Cabinet meeting, the leader confirmed that federal ministers had agreed to the formation of the RCI on February 8 and had tasked Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz to co-ordinate the scope of the RCI investigation.

At the Cabinet’s last meeting on Wednesday, February 15, a day before Najib’s Sabah trip, Nazri tabled a rough draft of the RCI’s terms of reference for discussion, the leader said.

“It was discussed but the terms of reference were not finalised because Cabinet wanted input from Sabah BN parties and the state government.

“And for that (reason), despite the huge expectation that the PM would announce the RCI on February 16, he was simply not ready to announce it,” the BN leader told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.

The leader pointed out that if Najib had announced the formation of the panel during his trip, the prime minister would have been criticised for being unable to offer clear answers on the panel’s scope of investigation and its members.

“Don’t forget, this issue has become a political hot potato. Everyone is talking about it. And it has been going on for years and years. Najib cannot make an announcement without giving some details,” said the leader.

But the leader admitted that Najib’s unexpected silence on the issue had not only angered but also embarrassed Sabah BN leaders, particularly those in UPKO and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), who have been trumpeting their success in pushing for the RCI.

The prime minister’s failure to keep his party comrades across the South China Sea informed of the progress of the RCI had also caused much confusion, the source added.

“Unfortunately, no one explained why there was no announcement on the RCI. We were all so anxious to find out what happened,” the leader said.

When Najib, who was scheduled to speak to the media after a function in Tungku, near Lahad Datu, cancelled his press conference and left for Kuala Lumpur, rumours began to arise over the prime minister’s hurried departure.

Internet news reports screamed of the possibility that Najib had backpedalled on the Cabinet’s decision, some even claiming of a “secret meeting” of Umno warlords who warned the prime minister that BN would lose a sizeable chunk of votes if the RCI were to crack down on the state’s massive population of illegals.

Opposition party leaders jumped at the opportunity to trumpet to the public their assertion that Sabah-based parties in BN hold no clout in the ruling pact.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang demanded to know if Sabah BN leader Tan Sri Bernard Dompok’s announcement on February 10 that the RCI had been approved by Cabinet was merely “hot air”.

One BN PBS leader told The Malaysian Insider that one rumour even alleged that it was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who urged Najib against forming the RCI.

“Why didn’t he announce it? Why? We were all wondering. There were rumours all over. And yes, we were very disappointed. Even more disappointed than the opposition,” said the leader.

The leader noted that during Najib’s meeting with Sabah BN, the prime minister had indicated the possibility that this could be his last visit to the Land below the Wind before federal elections are called.

“But then he added that he could pay another visit… if federal elections are not called. It was expected that the RCI would be announced. There was no indication otherwise,” the leader said.

The unchecked influx of illegals in Sabah has been a longstanding problem in the BN-ruled state, and has usually been blamed for the rise in social, economic and security problems suffered by the locals here.

According to replies provided in Parliament last year, Sabah’s populace numbered 651,304 in 1970 and grew to 929,299 a decade later. But in the two decades following 1980, the state’s population rose significantly by a staggering 1.5 million people, reaching 2,468,246 by 2000.

Media reports said that as of 2010, this number has grown further to 3.12 million, with foreigners making up a sizeable 27 per cent or 889,799 of the population.

Opposition leaders have long raged against the BN government for this population explosion, alleging that illegals have been allowed into the east Malaysian state, and given MyKads and voting rights to help the ruling coalition cling to power.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 23 February 2012 - 1:43 pm

    Obviously a mistake in the above. It read ‘to allow for the input of Sabab UMNO in the panel’s term of reference’…

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 23 February 2012 - 2:09 pm

    It looks like it will be another BN-inspired terms of reference with substantial BN reps on board the RCI to ensure the desired outcome.

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Thursday, 23 February 2012 - 2:10 pm

    The federal opposition should make sure the Sabah RCI is followed up with concrete actions and not ended up as mere academic exercise like what happened to other RCIs in the past e.g. Lingam tape RCI.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 23 February 2012 - 3:12 pm

    Be careful on what you asked for esp if BN agrees to the RCI and is the side that defines its parameters of enquiry and constitution of committee members…Project IC is a hot potatoe : whoever is involved is hard for Sabahans –or Malaysians- to forgive. (Some even argue that it is treasonable to pad up the electoral roll with immigrants grateful of their myKads in exchange for votes!) Pakatan Rakyat can feel elated of the RCI subject to one condition – that its paramount leader Anwar Ibrahim was clean, and not tainted or implicated in any relevant way to this Project during the 1990s when he was close to TDM and was deputy PM & UMNO’s No.2. One never knows what an Open RCI with present govt controlling what documents to be released and what not to be released will show or be skewed to show. If DSAI were to concede that he had some knowledge, then it will be raised how much knowledge etc. As far as Ah Jib Gor is concerned he would say that he wasn’t high enough in UMNO’s heirarchy to be privy to knowing the going ons of this secret project (if it existed). He’s got nothing to lose but he could direct the focus to PR’s leader and his role via the RCI!

  5. #5 by NotBN on Thursday, 23 February 2012 - 4:22 pm

    All parties & pollies including Harris, Kitingans, Dompok, YTLee, Tham, from Berjaya, PBS to SAPP, who formed the Govt since 1976 promised to look into this PTI issue but none succeeded doing anything. Yet today they still dare to continue this spin. It s time for a change. We have to give DAP, PKR or PAS a chance.

  6. #6 by Loh on Thursday, 23 February 2012 - 4:47 pm

    About half the population in Sabah are foreigners who become bumiputras of Sabah and Malaysia. Will their citizenship be withdrawn?

  7. #7 by Cinapek on Thursday, 23 February 2012 - 6:50 pm

    Believe it only when you see the end result. Remember Najib’s stadium promise for the Bersih 2 rally? How he renegaded on his promises?

    If it is a sincerely constituted RCI it will indict BN and many past and present UMNO and BN leaders at both Federal and state level. It has to be stillborn. That is why Najib is struggling to form the RCI and formulate its term of reference. There are strong forces trying to stop him from proceeding while at the same time he has to appease the public to show transparency over an obviously no-win hot potato. He has to find a compromise with a watered down RCI acceptable to all parties.

  8. #8 by Godfather on Thursday, 23 February 2012 - 8:59 pm

    The Special One will object to the RCI because his name will show up prominently as the Federal leader who gave the green light to Mustapha and Pairin to admit as many illegals as they could, preferably Muslim. So they came in droves from Kalimantan, from Sulu, from Mindanao.

  9. #9 by Godfather on Friday, 24 February 2012 - 9:31 am

    Now Najib appears to be backtracking….Mamakthir and his cronies must be putting pressure on Najib NOT to proceed with it, or at least not to finalise the terms without checking with the perpetrators of Project IC.

  10. #10 by Kampong Orang on Monday, 27 February 2012 - 12:29 am

    This is clearly showing bias and forming a biased so called Royal Commission.

    When you wait for input from BeEnd members in Sabah, this means you are injecting people of suporting BeEnd or influence on the outcome of investigation.

    This RCI should be from ex-Hongkong ICAC member, Brunei ex police and Singapore ex Anti Corruption.

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