KOTA KINABALU: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah yesterday heard that Api Api state assemblywoman Christina Liew of PKR was an Indonesian of Chinese descent who had obtained Malaysian citizenship.
Sabah Sukuk Ethnic Clan Association secretary Mohd Zaki Hari Susanto Zaki said certain Indonesian individuals had claimed that Liew was indeed an Indonesian and used to have an Indonesia surname.
However, one of the five RCI panel members, Datuk Henry Chin, who is a former Kuala Lumpur and Tawau district police chief, asked Zaki if he could provide any verified information to support the claim, adding that he personally knew Liew’s family and that the latter was born in Tawau.
“I know Christina Liew’s family, she was born in Tawau, she is a Sabahan, her parents were born in Hong Kong. She was born at Tawau Hospital when I was the Tawau OCPD,” said Chin.
“This is just claim, no verified information? So, I think you need to explain this to the people in Tawau, whatever perceptions that are not right,” he told Zaki.
Chin had earlier asked Zaki, who is also a former police officer, to clarify the statement he (Zaki) gave to the Commission’s investigation officer regarding the nationality of Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader Christina Liew.
He admitted mentioning in his statement that he received information in Tawau that Liew was a Chinese Indonesian who somehow managed to acquire Malaysian citizenship.
Zaki, who called for the inclusion of all non-native groups in the RCI probe, told the inquiry panel that he heard that residents of Tawau were questioning why only the descendants of Bugis and Sulu were identified as being recipients of identity cards through dubious means.
He said the RCI appeared to be focusing more on the Suluk ethnic group despite there being many other immigrants from other countries in Sabah.
“So the question is why is it only our race (Suluk) and this treatment is not extended to everyone,” he said.
Earlier, the witness told the Commission that the allegation that his former association Persatuan Rumpun Etnik Suluk Sabah (PRESS) was being used to acquire Malaysian identification cards for immigrants was not true.
Zaki, who was the secretary of PRESS before joining MPPS in April, said the objective of the association, which has nine affiliate organizations, is to unite the native Suluks in Sabah, especially in the east coast.
He said the movement also accepted members from other native ethnics but they must all be Malaysians.
“The association was new and was only registered in April 2012. It is not possible for it to become an agent or used as a platform (for illegal issuance of ICs) in such a short time.
“So, the perception that it is used as a vehicle to get ICs, or the people from the Philippines think that they can get ICs by becoming a member of the association is absolutely not true,” he said.
To a separate question, Zaki said certain things transpired from the recent Lahad Datu incursion, particularly associating the incident with the local Suluks, which is a great insult to the group.
“When I was serving with the Malaysian peacekeeping force in Timor Leste, I have met and become friends with members of the Philippines troupe who were Tausugs. I told them that I am a Suluk and they did not know what it is.
“It shows the (term) Suluk only exists in Malaysia, and that the local Suluk in Sabah is different from the so-called Suluk or Tausug from the Philippines,” he said.
Meanwhile, another witness, Andi Kadir Jailani, denied that Persatuan Kebajikan Bugis Sabah (PKBS) was used to get ICs for Indonesian immigrants through the back door.
Andi who served as PKBS secretary general from 1993 to 2005, admitted that there were incidents where the name of the association was used in fake IC application forms and a report had been lodged on the matter at the Karamunsing police station.
Andi, who did not mention when the report was made, said they had not received any response from the police so far.
He informed that PKBS has 18 branches with 12,000 members state- wide and they are working closely with the police to ensure the name of the association was not being misused by irresponsible parties.