Joseph Pairin should stop procrastinating but get cracking as RCIIIS Report Working Committee Chairman or declare he will decline appointment

More than five weeks have passed since the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak that Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan will be Chairman of the Working Committee of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Illegal Immigrants in Sabah (RCIIIS) to make recommendations on the RCIIIS Report, and some three weeks have passed since the public release of the RCIIIS Report in Kota Kinabalu on Dec. 3.

But there is no sign of urgency or even a sense of responsibility on the part of Joseph Pairin as nobody knows whether the full Working Committee had been formed or whether Joseph Pairin had chaired the first meeting of the Working Committee. In fact, nobody knows whether he is going to accept the appointment as there had been contrary noises from his party leadership.

One would have thought such developments would be important news in Sabah but there has been total silence on the Joseph Pairin front.

Under the circumstances, Joseph Pairin should stop procrastinating but get cracking as RCIIIS Report Working Commtitee Chairman or declare that he will decline appointment as the Working Committee Chairman.

The first thing Joseph Pairin should do as Working Committee Chairman is to express the Working Committee’s disappointment and even censure of the RCIIIS Report for failing in its duty to come to any concrete or conclusive finding or recommendation on the basic issues about the four-decade long illegal immigrant nightmare in Sabah, whether about the existence of the ‘Project IC’, the number of illegal immigrants on Sabah’s electoral roll or the number of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

In fact, the RCIIIS was so irresponsible, remiss and negligent in carry out its duties that it had absolutely nothing to say about its eighth term of reference, viz: “ (h) to enquire into the number of immigrants in Sabah who were issued blue identification cards or citizenship by taking into consideration their status as stateless persons”.

The RCIIIS has absolutely nothing to say about its eighth term of reference. How more irresponsible could the RCIIIS be? Or has the RCIIIS completely forgotten about this term of reference?

I have already dealt in the past media statements about the outrage of the RCIIIS avoiding giving a conclusive answer as to whether there was in existence the “Project IC” (all it said was “there is a probability that such a Project did exist at all material times”), or the number of illegal immigrants on Sabah’s electoral roll.

But it is also the same sorry tale about the number of illegal immigrants in Sabah with the RCIIIS, giving mumbo-jumbo answer that means nothing.

Joseph Pairin himself appeared as a witness before the RCIIIS on behalf of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), pointing out the unprecedented hike of Sabah’s population by 30% in three decades.

PBS submitted a memorandum to then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2007, expressing grave concern about the huge number of illegal immigrants in Sabah.

It drew attention to the period from 1970 to 2000 where the increase in the population of Sabah was 301% (1,954,707), as compared to 106% (1,036,347) for Sarawak.

Statistically, they showed 56% increase in the population of Sabah in 1980, 78% increase in 1991, and 44% increase in 2000 as compared to 27% increase in 1980; 33% increase in 1990 and 23% in 2000 for Sarawak.
The RCIIIS Report noted: “It was quite evident that the biggest increase was in 1991 when it registered an increase of 78%”.

PBS had, in the memorandum, alleged that on calculation, the number of illegal immigrants in Sabah would have been 1.7 million, comprising:

(a) 600,000 new citizens who were claiming to be Bumiputras and who were actually holders of genuine Malaysian ICs and their dependants;

(b) 750,000 with false ICs or expired documents or none at all; and

(c) 400,000 legal workers and IMM13 holders (refugees).

The PBS Memorandum also cited figures allegedly from the Statistics Department that from 1970 to 2000, the population increase for KadazanDusun Murut (KDM) was 162%, while the increase for Bajau and Iranun was 344 and for Malays was 1,552%.
However, the RCIIIS came out with its mumbo-jumbo finding that while taking note of the “unofficial figures” in the PBS memorandum, “there is no clear evidence as to the accuracy or otherwise of the figures given as these figures were not obtained from the Statistics Department nor were they confirmed by the said department.
Why did’nt the RCIIIS sub-poenae officials from the Statistics Department to verify or deny these figures in the PBS memorandum?

Now that Joseph Pairin is the Chairman of the RCIIIS Report Working Committee with five terms of reference to “peruse and study” the Report, will he use his position to ensure that a definitive figure is arrived on the number of illegal immigrants of Sabah and the number of illegal immigrants on Sabah’s electoral rolls?

The RCIIIS Report on page 286 made two important statements, that “if illegal immigrants have access to political suffrage, they are able to determine who holds political office and thus indirectly control national policies” and “it is possible for illegal immigrants to gain access to social, political and economic rights through falsely obtained documentation”.

What action plan is Joseph Pairin as the Chairman of Working Committee going to draw up as a result of these ominous observations in Page 286 of the RCIIIS Report?
Lim Kit Siang

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