KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim said he would have no problem testifying in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) probing the ‘Project IC’ in Sabah.
“I have no problem whatsoever. I knew for a long time the project was under the prime minister, that it did not involve a Cabinet process, so it is the full responsibility of the prime minister and finance minister.
“When I was there, even I was not briefed on the issue [of providing citizenship to immigrants],” Anwar told reporters at a press conference.
Yesterday Sabah Umno liaison deputy chief Salleh Said Keruak has challenged Anwar to tell the truth about the illegal immigrants to RCI tasked with looking into the long-standing problem in the state.
He said that Anwar was duty-bound to do so as he was deputy prime minister at that particular period, adding that “he was a powerful man and knew what was going on in Sabah”.
But Anwar said today he felt he had no reason to be worried because the RCI was an independent and transparent body.
“So they can check with the ex-AMK chief and the ex-MKN officers that I did not participate in any meetings with relevant authorities on the issues discussed in the RCI. They can check any files,” insisted Anwar.
Anwar also said the RCI had not summoned him because “they know I have nothing to do with it].”
“So Umno can try and use [this issue against me] but they must answer whether they themselves are directly involved.
“[Prime Minister] Najib [Tun Razak] himself is fully aware of the subject because it is still in practice,” claimed Anwar.
“It does not entirely implicate [former prime minister Dr] Mahathir [Mohamad] because it’s ongoing in the last few years. It did not end with the resignation or retirement of Mahathir.”
‘Mahathir has forgotten history’
He also flayed Mahathir for dragging the first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman into the issue.
The RCI, which began last Monday, is investigating claims that citizenship was given to illegal immigrants in Sabah during Mahathir’s administration.
Mahathir had admitted to reporters that foreigners were granted citizenship in Sabah during his time at the country’s helm, but stressed that it was “within the law”.
“One should also look back and remember that Tunku Abdul Rahman was worse than me, he gave one million citizenships to people who are not qualified and were not even tested,” Mahathir had told reporters.
“Why is it when he does it, it is not wrong, and when I do it, it’s wrong?”
Anwar said today: “Maybe Mahathir has forgotten history… this was the deal made by the Reid Commission and endorsed by Umno.”
He also said that Najib’s silence over the issue was a complete “abdication of responsibility” that reflected a weak position.
Last week, a former Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) director had reportedly told the RCI that blue identity cards were issued to increase the number of Muslim voters in Sabah.
According to media reports, he also said immigrants in Sabah were taught how to vote in elections, otherwise their identity cards were cancelled.
Last Wednesday, former Sabah NRD assistant registrar Kee Dzulkifly Kee Abd Jalil reportedly testified that 100,000 blue identity cards were given to Filipino, Indonesian and Pakistani immigrants in Sabah in 1993.
The late Megat Junid Megat Ayub, who was then deputy Home Minister, had also been accused of ordering the NRD to issue temporary documents to allow immigrants to vote in a 1994 state election.
The RCI disclosures have left a bitter taste in Sarawak, where thousands of Christian natives are still stateless.