Zahid is not fit or qualified to be Co-Chairman of the Permanent Committee to act on the RCIIIS findings because of his bias and rejection of the RCIIIS finding on ‘Project IC’

When Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi made his first visit to Sabah after the publication of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS) on December 3 and his appointment as Co-Chairman of the Permanent Committee to act on the RCIIIS findings, he insisted that there was no ‘Project IC’ responsible for the issue of tens and even hundreds of thousands of illegal or fraudulent identity cards allowing them to be registered as voters to change the political demography in Sabah.

During his visit to Sabah, Zahid outlined the terms of reference for the two committees set up to act on the findings of the RCIIIS – with Zahid, together with the Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman as the co-chairmen of the Permanent Committee, and Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, as the Chairman of the Working Committee on the RCIIIS Report.

However, something is very amiss, as how can Zahid be the Co-Chairman of the Permanent Committee to act on RCIIIS Report findings when he is biased as he rejects the RCIIIS’ most important finding on ‘Project IC’?

Zahid insists that there had been no “Project IC” but this is not the finding of the RCIIIS.

The RCIIIS devoted 14 pages of its 368-page report to “Project IC”, wrestling with the question whether it really existed or as it asked in the RCIIIS Report: “Was it fiction or fact?”. (p 288).

The RCIIIS Report states:

“From the evidence, it seems clear that there are two sides to the issue of whether the so-called ‘Project’ IC really existed”. (p. 297)

On one side, there is the evidence of W201 (Hassnar Ebrahim) who testified in the Likas Election petition, whose evidence being corroborated by five ex-NRD officers who were ex-ISA detainees (W11, W12, W13, W14 and W15; in fact there was a sixth one, W10, as well):-

Haji Ramli Kamaruddin (W11) ex-Director of Sabah NRD from 1992 to 1995, was detained for alleged involvement in illegally issuing high quality Malaysian ICs to immigrants for political purposes, to vote for certain Islamic Parties. Under instruction he also issued temporary identification receipts to illegal immigrants for voting purposes at election.

Kee Dzulkifli bin Kee Abdul Jalil (W12), a registration clerk attached to the National Registration Department (NRD), Kota Kinabalu in 1994, told the RCIIIS of his involvement in issuing 600,000 dubious ICs and 200,000 late registration of birth certificates illegally to Muslim immigrants from Philippines and Indonesia.

Asli bin Sidup (W13), an assistant registration officer and Yakop bin Damsah (W14) head of NRD, Tamparuli district, Sabah were sent under directive by Datuk Abdul Rauf Sani (W15), Director of Sabah NRD then, to KL in 1990 to process blue plastic ICs for issuance to immigrants in Sabah for political purposes. (About 40,000 such ICs processed and signed by four officers in one month, got laminated, before brought back to Sabah for collection by the intended holders.)

W15 was the Director from 1990 to 1992. He admitted having instructed W13 and W14 to carry out special task in KL relating to processing Malaysian ICs to be issued to illegal immigrants so that they could be registered as voter as in the electoral rolls, to increase the number of Muslim voters in Sabah and to defeat the PBS state government at that time.

This is the finding of RCIIIS:

“From the evidence of W11, W12, W13, W14 and W15, it is clear that there was a clandestine exercise involving senior officers in NRD Sabah who apparently acted under orders from their political superiors …….. The names mentioned by some of the above witnesses have included Tan Sri Harris Salleh, Tan Sri Aziz Shamsudin, Tun Dr. Mahathir and the late Tan Sri Megat Junid.”

On the other side, Mahathir, Harris Salleh and Aziz Shamsudin (as Megat Junid has passed away) denied vigorously their involvement in such clandestine exercise.

Furthermore, Special Branch officers Datuk Hj Ibrahim bin Hj Zakaria (W33) head of Special Branch, Sarawak and DSP Badaruddin bin Ismail (W34) who interviewed respectively W15 and W11 while under Internal Security Act (ISA) detention, disclosed that the sole motive of those activities was for financial gain.

Even the RCIIIS took the testimony of the Special Branch officers with more than a pinch of salt, as it questioned the professionalism and even integrity of the three SB officers concerned although couched in very bureaucratic language, with the following finding/observation in the RCIIIS Report (p 298/299):

“In our view, when the testimonies of W33, W34 and W56 (Supt. Ahmad Fauzan bin Mohd) are analysed carefully, it seems obvious that their interrogations and/or assessments of the suspects did not go beyond determining the financial motive involved. They were apparently satisfied solely on the basis that the said activities were conducted for financial or monetary gain. They took the view that that would be sufficient to constitute threats to national security and therefore be subjected to arrest and detention under the ISA. They did not seem to find it necessary to go beyond the financial motive and to determine whether there were other motives involved. And even if they did, it is doubtful whether the suspects mentioned above would have revealed their clandestine involvement given its secretive nature and intentions as well as the personalities involved.”

It does not make sense and even ludicrous to dismiss the whole “Project IC” as being purely for financial gain.

Abdul Rauf (W 15) issued “6,305 ICs resulting in collection of RM167,300”, while Ramli Kamaruddin (W11) issued “16,000 IC receipts for voting only resulting in collection in excess of RM1 million”?

The average money transacted per IC is only RM28 in the case of Abdu Rauf and RM62 in the case of Ramli – a laughable figure for such a heinous crime!

Who would believe that the illegal immigrants have to pay the “Project IC” masterminds whether RM28 or RM62 each to vote for UMNO in the Sabah elections, rather than the other way round?

Ramli’s testimony shows how ridiculous is the theory that the motive for “Project IC” was just for financial gain.

Ramli (p 51/52) told the RCIIIS that he had been transferred to Sabah as Director of NRD “in order to assist the Government that would be more Islam based”.

The RCIIIS Report gave the following summary of Ramli’s testimony:

“According to him, he was to identify the Muslim voters and to persuade them to vote for certain Islamic parties. He said that two weeks before the 1993 DUN election in Sabah, he met with the late Tan Sri Megat Junid, the then Deputy Minister of Home Affairs. He was accompanied by one Encik Asli, a colleague of his.

“They were instructed to issue JPN receipts such as JPN1/9 and JPN 1/11 to illegal immigrants so that they could be entered into the electoral rolls in certain black or grey areas in Sabah. They would be coached on how to vote, etc. The receipts were apparently issued just for the purpose of voting and they had to be surrendered back after they had voted.

“The alleged meeting was at the Hyatt Hotel, Kota Kinabalu. According to him, approximately 200 such receipts were issued at 5 to 10 DUN constituencies were involved.

“At the time, he also received instructions from the Deputy Director-General, NRD, to issue ICs with duplicate numbers to illegal immigrants so that they could vote at elections.

“The witness admitted that what he was doing was against the law but he did so on instructions from the late Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and the Deputy Director-General, NRD.”

Who would believe that the illegal immigrants, who had to return the fake documents after voting, had to pay the “Project IC” agents and that the whole scam was for financial gain?

Abdul Rauf’s testimony is equally shocking about the treasonous activities committed in the mass issue of fake documentation for illegal immigrants, but what is even more shocking is that this officer had not only not been penalised, but is being well looked after by the UMNO/Government, as he is now CEO of Totalisator Board of Malaysia, which is under the Ministry of Finance!

It should be noted that the RCIIIS praised Hasnar Ebrahim, putting in black and white that: “It would appear that Hassnar Ebrahim has been quite consistent in his evidence. This is reflected in his testimony in the Likas Election Petition case in 1999; then in the Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity in 2006 and now before the RCI.”

The RCIIIS did not have any word of praise for the consistency of political leaders like Mahathir, Harris Salleh and Aziz Shamsuddin who gave testimony for the “other side” of the story about ‘Project IC’.

In fact, the RCIIIS Report went further when found that the five ex-NRD had “corroborated each others’ evidence in material particulars”, “collectively admitted their joint involvement in some detail” and have “made serious allegations against powerful figures”.
The RCIIIS continued:

“This must necessarily raise the question as to why they would have the audacity to do so. What was their motive?

“Second, there is evidence that in the 1990s, the population growth in Sabah rose by 78% which would have been the highest increase since Sabah become part of Malaysia. This may be regarded as confirmation of the stand taken by some witnesses as to why there was such a large influx of illegal immigrants to Sabah at that time. That was the period when the evidence disclosed that there were significant numbers of illegal immigrants being issued with Malaysian ICs by way of statutory declaration for political purposes.”

Did ‘Project IC’ existed?

This was the RCIIIS finding on ‘Project IC: – that it is more likely to have existed:

“There is some credibility in the evidence of the five ex-NRD officers. Because they were not cross-examined and given the denials against the allegations, we can only conclude that it was more likely than not, that Project IC did exist. In short there is a probability that such a Project did exist at all material times.”

By asserting that “Project IC” never existed, Zahid was repudiating the RCIIIS finding on one of its most important terms of reference – in which case, he has forfeited the right to be Co-chairman of the Permanent Committee to act on the findings of the RCIIIS.

Will Zahid step down as Co-Chairman of the RCIIIS Report Permanent Committee?

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