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Govt crackdown puts Sabah BN in hot spot

 | July 4, 2011

Is BN-ally, Upko, caught in an awkward situation over the looming Bersih rally?

KOTA KINABALU: The Bersih rally for free and fair elections in the country has put Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties in a quandary.

Showing support would mean turning their guns on their political masters, Umno, and criticising it would expose them as two-faced.

At least one party, United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Musrut Organisation (Upko) has found itself in this unenviable position as the July 9 rally looms and the government launches a crackdown on its organisers and supporters.

Former Senator Dr Chong Eng Leong, for one, has pointed out their duplicity in the light of the rally which they too have been asking for, albeit ineffectively.

Upko has side-stepped the issue by aligning itself with a government plan to set up yet another “special committee” to tackle the perennial illegal immigrant issue affecting the state.

Upko secretary-general Wilfred Madius Tangau announced that the Sabah government would form three committees, one of them on citizenship and immigrants, to address the various problems in the state.

Tangau at the same time assured that Upko had not given up on its demand for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the so-called Project IC and on the number of foreigners who had been illegally granted citizenship and voting rights.

Chong sees Upko as a party caught in an awkward situation with the Bersih rally looming and Sabah BN parties unable to support its call for the very things they have been seeking from the federal government.

“Have you forgotten that Upko president Bernard Dompok was the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on National Integrity in 2006 and resigned the chairman post because the Director-General of the National Registration Department (NRD) rebuffed the Committee’s request for details of these dubiously issued ICs?” he asked.

Rebuffed request

He suspects the NRD rebuffed Dompok’s request because of instruction from much higher authorities as there was something to hide.

In a statement yesterday Chong said he was speaking out as he wants to remind the public what happened in the past.

Chong, who is currently also an assistant to PKR leader Thamrin Jaini who is in charge of the party’s Finance, Security and Illegal Immigrant issue, expressed regret that Upko agreed with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s contention that elections in the country are fair.

Najib, in criticising the Bersih rally, had said that  “that if the present election system was not fair, how was it possible that BN was denied a two-thirds majority and lost five states to the opposition during the previous election.”

Chong is surprised that Upko concurred with Najib on the matter.

“Does Upko believe that it is fair to register as (phantom) voters foreigners who were granted citizenship dubiously?

“Does Upko realize that there are at least 70,000 such phantom voters in Sabah rolls?

“Does Upko realize that nine out of the 12 new state constituencies added in 2004 were areas where there were heavy concentration of Project IC holders and is this fair?

“Does Upko believe that vote-buying is fair? Does Upko believe that postal ballot system is fair?”

Electoral rolls

Chong reiterated that citizenships granted dubiously to foreigners in Sabah (through Project IC) remains a hot subject today even though it was first broached in the 1990’s.

“It was widely disclosed during the Likas election petition 1999 and the petitioner won a landmark decision in his favour.

“But the Election Commission (EC) did nothing to expunge names implicated from the electoral rolls and until today these non-qualified names are still in the rolls.”

Chong said the issue had raised grave concerns among the public and various concerned NGOs, Suhakam (Malaysia Human Rights Commission) and political parties had urged the EC to clean the electoral rolls.

“They have also asked for RCI, but (it has) fallen on deaf ears. Umno openly rejected this call for RCI and denied existence of this Project IC,” he said.

The Federal Cabinet Committee on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah was formed firstly in year 2000, then re-formed in 2006 and for the third time in 2008 but little has happened since then, said Chong.

“Nothing happened that in 2010 a Laboratory on Management of Illegal Immigrants in Sabah was formed by the Federal Government – the idea was the same but only in different name, trying to hoodwink we Sabahans and at the end still nothing happened.”

Chong was once a senior official in Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and has been at the forefront of efforts to clean up the electoral rolls as well as expose a secret project that allowed thousands of illegal immigrants and refugees in Sabah to gain Malaysian citizenship.


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