KOTA KINABALU : BN component party Upko today told the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on immigrants in Sabah that it had never received a satisfactory explanation from Putrajaya over the population explosion in Sabah.
“I have raised this issue repeatedly in parliament either during debates or by written question and I have never been satisfied with the answer from the Home Ministry.
“As long as I remain in the house I will continue to press for answers,” said Upko secretary-general Wilfred Madius Tangau, who is the 117th witness to testify at the RCI and the first active politician to take the stand since hearing began in January.
Wilfred was Tuaran MP from 2004 to 2008 and was elected again in the constituency during last month’s general election after a one-term hiatus.
He said one of the explanation Putrajaya had given to him in 2006 to justify Sabah’s population explosion was that rural folks now had better access to the National Registration Department (NRD) and can finally be registered and accounted for.
“But if you draw parallels between Sabah and Sarawak, Sarawak used to be more remote than Sabah, so why has Sarawak’s population not increased faster than Sabah with better access to NRD now,” he said.
Sabah, which initially had a lower population than Sarawak, saw it rapidly grew to overtake its neighbouring state, climbing from around 341,000 in 1951 to over three million in 2010.
The illegal granting of citizenship to foreigners had been blamed for Sabah’s unnatural population growth.
When asked by former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Steve Shim, who leads the RCI, what was missing from Putrajaya’s explanation, Wilfred responded: “the truth”.
When pressed what “the truth” was, Wilfred replied, “as far as I am concerned, the truth is the sworn statement of Hassnar Ebrahim, he had said how it (Project IC) was done”.
Hassnar Ebrahim was a district officer who had implicated several individuals and explained how foreigners were allowed to vote in the Likas election petition, leading to the constituency results being declared null and void.
‘Project IC’ is a general name given to a series of covert operations which took place in Sabah involving government agencies to allow foreigners to vote in the state election. (Malaysiakini)