KOTA KINABALU: The Royal Commissison of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah was today told that 446,173 refugees and illegal immigrants were deported from 1990 to date.
Sabah and Labuan Federal Special Task Force Team director Datuk Suhaimi Mohd Salleh said those deported had no documents.
Asked how he came up with the number by RCI chairman, ex-chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong, Suhaimi said there were records.
The fifth witness, who joined the Special Task Force on Jan 15, 2012, also said the team. which was set up on April 4, 1989, also managed and tackled problems of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
Suhaimi told conducting officer Manoj Kurup, the team was set up to help the Placement Unit under the Chief Minister’s Office (JKM) handle the increasing number of immigrants to Sabah.
Suhaimi also said a census of 32 refugee placement units in 2007 found 59,000 Filipino refugees while up to 2010, 38,000 Filipino refugees were found at 16 placement units.
Fourth witness Mokhtar Yassin Ajam, who was JKM’s internal affairs and research secretary, told the commission that a review made between 2007 and 2010 found 33,019 Filipino refugees including 15,000 children in Sabah.
Mokhtar, who was attached to JKM since Oct, 2005, said the children were third and fourth generation offspring of refugees who came to Sabah in the early 1970s.
Mokhtar said all the refugees were those who were overlooked during the process of registering IMM-13 temporary identification passes implemented in 1976-1984.
He said since the parents did not have self identification documents, their children did not have birth certificates, thus not able to gain access to the government education system.
Nevertheless, he said, the federal government with non-governmental organisations had set up special schools for the children.
Meanwhile, former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Mohd Salleh denied the existence of a so called “Project IC” during his tenure as Chief Minister from 1976 to 1985.
“I have never heard of “Project IC”. As far as I am aware, there is no such thing as “Project IC”,” said Harris, adding that if the federal agency issued the identity cards, it might have been in a hurry as it had to deal with thousands of applications.
Harris, however, said even if the identity cards were given out speedily, it would have been done according to the provisions of the federal constitution.
When asked by Manoj to read his statement submitted to the RCI Tuesday, Harris said among the policies adopted by the Federal government was to grant citizenship to refugees in accordance with the United Nations Charter.
“This was announced by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al Haj, the then Prime Minister of Malaysia in early 1970s. Tunku announced that Muslim refugees can stay in Malaysia and also non-muslims (mostly Vietnamese), who in any case preferred either to go to Australia, Europe or the USA,” he said, adding that the policies seemed to be still in force these days.
The hearing continues tomorrow.– Bernama