By NELSON W ANGANG
COMMENT: The recent arrest of three men including a National Registration Department officer in Semporna highlights the continuing problems in Sabah of foreign illegal immigrants obtaining birth certificates and identification cards by illegal means.
The action of these individuals or syndicates are a threat to national securities. What is of great concern is the involvement of the National Registration Department (NRD) officer.
UPKO applaud the swift actions of the Police and hope this would be a warning to those who still continue to threatened the the sovereignty of our country by this deplorable method. Having said that however, sadly this is not something new.
This has been happening for many years now. In the Royal Commission of Enquiry on Foreign Illegal Immigrants in Sabah in 2012 it has been reported of the existence of such syndicates and also the active involvement of NRD officers.
This recent arrest with the alleged involvement of NRD officer raises the question whether the law should look into such action as treasonous.
In the RCI findings, local birth certificates were sold for RM3,500 and for identification card it could be purchased between RM2,000 to RM5,000 each depending on the locality and quality of the identification card.
In the recent arrest, there is no surprise that the amount paid to obtain illegal birth certificates and IC are the same or still within the range of what was reported in the RCI where it was reported that for birth certificate is RM3,500 and for IC RM6,000.
Even though it was reported that documents that were seized such as applications forms, documents and chop from NRD, health clinics, Hospitals, Native Court, village chiefs and the Sabah Islamic Religious Affairs Department were found to be fake, it still raises grave concerns on whether there are those and how many of them who had manage to successfully obtained identification cards from these illegal methods.
This is because in the RCI findings for Sabah in 2012, the NRD had admitted that there were 113,850 identification cards being considered problematic.
Out of these 113,850, around 51,300 of ICs were issued based on surat akuan sumpah or statutory declaration and the remaining 62,550 did not contain full records except photocopies and that there were no information whether their applications were supported by surat akuan sumpah or statutory declaration. Surprisingly even with these shortcomings they are still registered in the NRD records.
We are already facing the problems of illegal immigrants registered in the NRD system and in the electoral roll. Now, with the country moving towards automatic voters’ registration the matter could not get anymore critical.
As to this date since the RCI findings were made public, no solution has been presented by the relevant authorities in solving these problems. Having syndicates continuously selling birth certificates and identification card only confirms that the problems hasn’t stopped and is very much alive.
These problems are not mere suspicions or based on an unfounded allegations but in fact has been reported and concluded in the RCI findings in 2012.
We have witnesses in the RCI who themselves admitted to have illegally purchase birth certificates and identification card and have voted in numerous general elections.
The relevant authorities have been saying over the years that they know that such problems in Sabah exist and that they are looking into ways to solved these problems.
UPKO elected representatives have been vocal about this issue in Parliament even as to the recent passing of the automatic voters’ registration and the lowering the age of voters to 18 years old.
Mind you that the automatic registration of voters does not only mean voters who have reached the age of 18 years old will be automatically registered in the electoral rolls but those who are listed in the NRD records regardless of age who are yet to be register in the electoral rolls will be automatically registered.
It is said that we have always been harping on this issue, well the people of Sabah will continue raising this until a solution is found and that this matter is really dealt with.
As it is now, the Election Commission who is in charge of the electoral rolls does not have the power or the investigative powers to determine whether those people who are in the NRD records are genuine Malaysian citizens who has been registered in the NRD system in accordance with the law.
The authorities must now take serious action and find a real solution to address these grave problems.
UPKO has been vocal and consistent in the recalling of all ICs in Sabah as one of the solution and with this recent arrest, such suggestion must be seriously consider by the authorities.
If the government are not serious in finding a solution, those illegal immigrants who are still registered in the electoral rolls and with the possibility of more will be registered from a tainted NRD records, will have a hand in deciding the government of the day.
This directly affects the country sovereignty and put a question mark on the sanctity of our nation election process especially so in Sabah.”
* Nelson W. Angang is UPKO Secretary General