KOTA KINABALU, SEPT 19- Former Malaysian deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) here that throughout his term in the federal government from 1982 to 1998, he had been kept in the dark over two issues — the billions of ringgits flowing out and issues of home security.
“On the billions of ringgits only Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Daim Zainuddin knew, while on issues of Home Affairs, I was only involved on the problem of housing for the police force which I brought up when I learned from security men assigned to my house that some of them lived in squatter huts,” he told the five-member royal commission in a packed High Court room here.
Anwar who is now the opposition leader in Parliament, also revealed that even during the Ops Lallang, where many opposition leaders were arrested, he was not consulted and was kept in the dark until the very end.
“When I asked the prime minister, Mahathir, what was going on, his standard reply was ‘this is security issue, I will deal with the police’,” he said.
Earlier he testified that he did not believe Mahathir would not know of the existence of Project IC, or giving out Malaysian documents to illegal immigrants, in Sabah.
He said it was impossible for Mahathir to claim ignorance about the dubious issuance of Malaysian identity documents to illegal immigrants in Sabah, unless he was irresponsible and incompetent.
Saying he himself was not involved in any security task force, Anwar asserted that Mahathir, as the prime minister at the height of Project IC, had a full knowledge of what was going on in home security as he was also Home Minister at the time.
Dr M was aware
Anwar who wore dark glasses throughout his two-hour session with the RCI, told the hearing that he believed there was corruption and unaccountability on many levels but not necessarily in all civil service, and this provided for a rotting system in Malaysia including in security matters.
When asked by RCI chairman, Steve Shim Lip Kiong, whether he agreed that Malaysia had a weak system on awarding citizenship, Anwar said he partially agreed.
He added that there are laws for citizenship and it had been awarded every now and then but that its issuance to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants would not have been possible without the knowledge of the Home Minister.
“If the issuance of citizenship is for a few hundred people yes, but there is no way we can issue citizenship to the hundreds of thousands without the knowledge of the Home Minister, or approval from the very top leadership,” he said.
Asked by RCI member Herman Luping on what could be done to the foreigners who now have Malaysian documents, Anwar replied Malaysia has to deal with it from a constitutional and humanitarian basis.
“But it will be a major and horrendous exercise,” he pointed out.
Anwar also painted a picture that Sabahan ministers in the Federal Cabinet had not been vocal or convincing enough on the illegal immigrants issues in Sabah, so as to compel the Cabinet to discuss it.
“I think most of the time people were satisfied with the answer given by the Home Ministry,” he said admitting that the problem in Sabah is a national issue and not just a Sabah matter.
Not under current state government
On the proposal by certain parties that a Homeland Security be established to resolve the illegal immigrants issue in Sabah, the former deputy premier said it matters little if corrupt leaders are to lead in it.
“You set up a new unit, but soon it will be infested by corrupt officers,” he said adding that those who proposed the setting up of a Homeland Security, if it is modeled after the United States which introduced it after the Sept 11 terrorist attacks, they better be aware of the downsides of it.
On the proposal by certain parties for the Sabah state government to issue its own identity cards in order to differentiate between genuine Sabahans and foreigners with Malaysian documents, Anwar said he would not agree with the idea under the current (Umno-led) Sabah state government.
“We must allow officers from the (Sabah) state to monitor but I would not support the state to issue its own IC, especially this particular state government,” he said.
He also said the police and army were beefed up in Sabah but that was still not adequate.
Mahathir who testified at the RCI last week denied any knowledge of Project IC, or citizenship-for-votes scam, which was done in the 1990s in order to legalise many foreigners as Malaysians in return for their votes for BN.
A day after his testimony, Mahathir alluded that Anwar would be the right person to answer questions on this issue, suggesting that the latter had played an active role in the project.
Previously Sabah politician Jeffrey Kitingan too had urged Anwar to tell the truth when he testifies at the RCI.