Sabah NRD director tells the RCI that he was personally instructed by Megat Junid Megat Ayub to recruit new voters.
KOTA KINABALU: A former National Registration Department (NRD) officer told an inquiry here that he took part in a project to give foreigners here identity cards so that they could vote in an election in the 1990s.
Mohd Nasir Sugip, who was detained under the now repealed Internal Security Act (ISA), told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) he was part of a top secret operation dubbed ‘Ops Durian Buruk’ (Operation Rotten Durian) on the instruction of his bosses in the department.
He claimed the operation ran from 1992 to 1995 and said the instruction to furnish the foreigners with identity cards so that they could vote came from the state Election Commission (EC).
“At that time, Sabah SPR director Wan Ahmad handed over a list of 16,000 names to be made into ‘bumiputera Islam’ voters.
“My boss, Sabah NRD director Ramli Kamarudin, then verbally told me to execute this project,” he said.
Mohd Nasir said three other individuals were present when the instruction was issued but their names could not be immediately ascertained.
He said he followed the instructions given to him and recruited other officers at the district level for the operation.
Based on a list of names provided by the EC, foreigners were issued with new identity card numbers that contained their date of birth, photographs and names and all were mostly from Sandakan, Tawau, Sempoerna and other parts of the state, he said.
“The list consisted of Filipinos and Indonesians who were Muslim and aged above 21 years,” Mohd Nasir told the inquiry.
‘We planted voters’
These individuals were then planted as voters in various constituencies around Sabah with the objective of boosting the number of Muslim voters in the state.
“An example is in the state assembly seat of Sugut and the parliamentary seat of Kinabatangan. We planted about 800 voters in Sugut and in the next general election. the result was in favour of BN. The candidate won by 79 votes,” he said.
Mohd Nasir said all he was doing was following orders and he did not receive any payment for taking part in the operation. He was detained under the Internal Security Act, for three years from May 30, 1995.
The former NRD officer’s evidence flies in the face of repeated denials by top state leaders including former chief minister Harris Salleh that there was no concerted effort to provide immigrants with citizenship in exchange for votes for the BN as has long been alleged.
Meanwhile, NRD director, Ramli Kamaruddin, backed up Mohd Nasir’s claim saying he embarked on recruiting ‘new’ voters after personally receiving instructions from then-deputy home minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub.
“I received a call two weeks before the 1994 Sabah state election to meet Megat Junid at a hotel. I was instructed to help to ensure a state government endorsed by the federal government would win,” he told the inquiry.
He said he was instructed to issue to immigrants receipts for identity cards containing the details of people who were already in the electoral roll but had never voted.
“I was instructed to issue NRD receipts using the name and IC number of voters already in the electoral roll just to allow them to vote,” he said.