KOTA KINABALU: Datu Akjan Datu Ali Mohamad has exerted his claim that he is a Sabahan who was born in Kampung Limau Limauan, Kudat in 1957.
He told the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the presence of illegal immigrants in Sabah that allegations of him being born in the Philippines and brought to Sabah by his uncle were all lies and media spin-off.
Akjan also said that the claims by Wan Mohammad Hj Undas that he was an ordinary Filipino who had earned a living by washing cars in Sabah were just ramblings of a senile old man.
“I pity the old man as he is senile. I wanted to sue him but decided against it because he is senile. He has slandered me but I leave it to Allah,” Akjan said in reply to conducting officer Jamil Aripin about the contradicting accounts of his citizenship.
According to Akjan, his birth in Kudat was vouched for by the Ketua Kampung and mid-wife from Kampung Limau Limauan when he went to the National Registration Department (NRD) in 1973 to apply for a Statutory Declaration.
He added that he is aware of the fact that the Home Ministry has initiated an investigation as to his origin and citizenship following the allegations that he was born in the Philippines.
The former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee also told the commission that he was the only child and had a hard life growing up as his father, who is from Kudat, passed away when he was very young.
“I was brought up by several aunties and uncles in Sandakan. There are times when I went to school and times when I did not. I would usually work one year and earn money so that I could go to school the following year,” Akjan disclosed.
Akjan also told the panel that his detention under ISA for 32 months from 1995 was because of his alleged involvement in “OPS Kenal” which had issued Malaysian identity cards to non-deserving immigrants in Sabah.
“I was not involved in the issuance of Malaysian identity cards to immigrants, all I did then was to help people to fill in forms and fill up the Statutory Declaration forms. I was the then Persatuan Bajau Suluk secretary general and many people especially the natives from the interior areas had sought my assistance.
“To me there is no harm in helping these illiterate people fill in the form and that is all I did, what they did with the document later is beyond my control,” he said, adding that in those days, the Statutory Declaration form was easily available and is even sold in bookstores.
“I was seen as helping immigrants obtain the identity cards but what I did was just to fill in the forms for the natives I met when travelling around the state. It is the government and relevant authorities like the NRD that approves and issues the identification document,” he said, adding that the Statutory Declaration forms were endorsed by the Ketua Kampung in the applicants’ respective villages.
Akjan also said that he had never personally assisted these people with the application process at NRD although he did advise the villagers he met to apply for the identification document at NRD.
“I never reaped any benefit nor was I ever involved in making false IC or falsifying Statutory Declarations. I do not know who is involved in issuing ICs to immigrants,” he said.
Akjan, however, was of the opinion that immigrants who have been in Malaysia for a long time should be granted citizenship as long as they meet the required criteria.
He was of the opinion that it was unfair when some foreigners especially those who were hired to be national sports coaches are granted immediate citizenship but those who have been in Sabah for more than 50 years were denied the right to be Malaysians.
Akjan also refuted claims of phantom voters in the Electoral Rolls and alleged that this issue was sensationalized by politicians who wanted to be heroes.
To another question whether he knew anything about a “Projek IC”, Akjan said it existed but stressed that he was referring to the mobile services offered by the NRD to help rural folk obtain birth certificates and identity cards.
When asked what would his opinion be if the Government decides to revoke all the dubious identity cards, Akjan replied, “the Government has the right to do anything. It issued the identification document so it has the right to revoke it. But why not just grant citizenship to immigrants who have been in Sabah for a long time?” he said.
Asked about what the Government should do to control the influx of immigrants to Sabah, Akjan believed that they should be documented so that it is easy for the relevant authorities to monitor their movements.
Akjan also told the commission that he had arranged for self-proclaimed Sulu sultan Jamalul Kiram to meet Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and that he was instrumental in arranging the meeting between Jamalul’s brother Esmail Kiram and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.