Anwar tells of special task force to issue ICs to foreigners in Sabah

by Lee Shi-Ian
The Malaysian Insider
September 19, 2013

The Royal Commission of Inquiry on Sabah’s illegal immigrants problem today heard from Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that indiscriminate issuance of Malaysian identity cards had begun during the time of second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.

Anwar, the Deputy Prime Minister from 1993 until his dramatic sacking in 1998, Ibrahim, told the Inquiry that between 1972 and 1984, there was an influx of refugees fleeing fighting in the southern Philippines.

The refugees were granted identity cards indiscriminately between 1979 and 1990, said Anwar, who said a special task force was formed by the National Security Council for this purpose.

“The task force is still active today,” he said.

Anwar issues of national security were closely guarded by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the latter’s premiership.

Dr Mahathir also doubled as the Home Minister at that time, who was in charge of citizenship matters.

“Yes, I knew of this special task force but I was not privy to its workings or exact details of its tasks.

“Ultimately, Dr Mahathir was the person responsible and if he chose not to bring-up the issue during Cabinet meetings, you have to wonder why,” said Anwar.

He further said that members of the administration then including within Umno were not aware of what transpired.

“There were no Cabinet papers on that issue nor was it brought up during meetings, you can check the minutes if you don’t believe me.

“Had I attended any such meeting relating to the issuance of identity cards to illegal immigrants, I am very sure that it would be noted in the minutes. I am not talking about an ordinary task force, I am referring to a special task force whose tasks were less than transparent,” Anwar told the Inquiry.

Saying the task force was still operational, he named Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawiand, saying both have more information about the task force.

“The task force was set up by the National Security Council, which is known to be a very important strategic body. What some people may not know is that the NSC also serves as Umno’s war room from time to time,” Anwar told the five-man RCI panel led by former Sabah and Sarawak Chief Justice Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong.

To a question by RCI consulting officer Manoj Kurup on how to dealing with illegal immigrants who held identity cards, Anwar replied:

“This is a massive nightmare for the country which was created by the executive, it involves massive corruption and a serious threat to Malaysia’s sovereignty. And now we are being asked how to clean up the mess created, which also had strong ramifications in the 13th general election.”

Shim and Manoj took turns in questioning Anwar on his role during that time.

Shim: There was a significant population increase in Sabah which occurred roughly around the time of Umno’s entry into the state. You were responsible for spearheading Umno’s entry into Sabah in 1991, isn’t that correct?

Anwar: Yes, there were good reasons for Umno to feel that they should have a strong influence in Sabah. However, you have to differentiate between a political party fighting a legitimate battle within the boundaries of the law and a party that isn’t.

Shim: There are perceptions that the population increase was due to illegal immigrants being incorporated into the community to increase the fortunes of a certain political party.

Anwar: It is unfair to blame the party as a whole as not everyone is privy to the matter. But the leaders who knew about the incident and chose to condone such secretive and clandestine acts of sabotage should be hauled up and held responsible. Nobody should condone an illegal operation which threatens national security.

Manoj: What can be done to tackle the issue of illegal immigrants holding Malaysian identity cards?

Anwar: We should be fair, not every Filipino in Sabah is an illegal immigrant, we must ascertain who are the actual refugees. Indiscriminate revocation of their identity cards is against international law, even if Malaysia is not a signatory to that particular agreement. But the first step we must take is to put an immediate stop to the issuance of identity cards to illegal immigrants. There are government or Umno officers who have been sent to Sepang and Selayang to issue identity documents to illegal immigrants. We must stop these excesses now without any excuses.

Manoj: What should be done with the illegal immigrants who have Malaysian identity cards, whose children and grandchildren were born here?

Anwar: This is a very complicated issue as withdrawing their identity cards would mean these people become stateless. We must think of the present generation and consider their rightful place in Malaysia.

Urging for caution when it comes to revoking the identity cards given under dubious circumstances, Anwar said the matter must be dealth with on humanitarian grounds.

“If we revoke the identity cards, who is going to accept the illegal immigrants? Certainly not the Philippines or Indonesia.

“I have held discussions with former Philippines President Fidel Ramos during our respective terms in office. He was reluctant in accepting former refugees back to the Philippines as he considered them Malaysia’s responsibility,” Anwar added. – September 19, 2013.

  1. #1 by yysktan on Thursday, 19 September 2013 - 5:51 pm

    Could consider revoking citizenships given illegally but issuing PR status instead.

  2. #2 by yysktan on Thursday, 19 September 2013 - 5:52 pm

    Another way us to repatriate them to peninsular Malayan states.

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Thursday, 19 September 2013 - 8:08 pm

    The RCI is a waste of time if no action is taken at the end.

  4. #4 by worldpress on Thursday, 19 September 2013 - 8:30 pm

    Nobody be respect you and your country

    If you can not uphold the policy in the constitution and laws

  5. #5 by john on Thursday, 19 September 2013 - 10:26 pm

    Bumno is a falsehood party, lording over this Nation. One Mamak and his clones, macai hide behind the ‘law and order ? ‘ to plunder this Nation. For these crooks, cheats, hypocrites of Bumno are just the warlords actually where they make a mockery of this country’s law.

  6. #6 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 19 September 2013 - 11:21 pm

    It hopefully only happened in Sabah and nowhere else.

    They could not stand Sabah being a Christian state.

  7. #7 by Fort on Friday, 20 September 2013 - 1:14 am

    Thanks to Anwar for telling us more detail what is going on when he was in Umno concerning this project IC .

    Unfortunately, Mahathir had chose to evade the questions put forward to him. As long as Umno is in power, Mahathir is free to do so. RCI is useless in this present corrupted regime!

    It look like Umno can get away with whatever it likes because it is ruling.

    The hope for remedy for many ills in our nation is a change of power.

  8. #8 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Friday, 20 September 2013 - 9:22 am

    Thanks to monsterO’mamak for telling the RCI to ask anwar for details.

    And yes thanks to anwar too. Now we know a little bit more. Yeah. A little bit more about monsterO’mamak’s direct command in the matter.

    But of course, like all the other RCIs nothing will ever happen. It would soon end. Report will then be tendered. And recommendations made. Actions will not be taken – in constrast with jib’s Endless Possibilities, this course actually is a certainty.

  9. #9 by Bigjoe on Friday, 20 September 2013 - 9:26 am

    its time to move the goal post on UMNO/BN on this issue. EVEN if the RCI is ineffective or it comes out that its hard to determine who are the illegals and non-illegal – Sabah has the right to determine who are residents and not resident – its time to demand that those given IC and cannot be deported removed from Sabah AT UMNO’s expense – they can move them to Putrajaya/Kedah – after all they could organise voters by planeloads during the GE..

  10. #10 by Godfather on Friday, 20 September 2013 - 10:50 am

    Remember that there will be no written evidence of anyone ordering anything, so the Tribunal will not be able to reach a conclusion on who was responsible for the indiscriminate issuance of the ICs. The Tribunal will not be able to come up with any recommendation on how to deal with those who were “conferred” citizenship illegally because it was not the fault of the recipients. It can only recommend that going forward, certain procedures will need to be followed.

    You can’t put the cat back into the bag. Just learn to live with it.

  11. #11 by silat88 on Friday, 20 September 2013 - 3:51 pm

    send all of them to the Mad doctor or to Kedah since they will all be welcomed with open arms as fellow Moslems.
    nothing will come out of the RCI as they have no teeth, all talk .
    NATO- no action all talk.
    have the guts to hold the person responsible for this accountable as no 1 should be above the law

  12. #12 by good coolie on Saturday, 21 September 2013 - 12:07 am

    It is hard to believe that our Brother Anwar knew nothing of project IC or had no power at all to question that policy, especially as he was No.2 in gobemen.

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