KOTA KINABALU: A former Sabah chief minister said there is no need for a second royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants as the findings from the first one were “good enough”.
Yong Teck Lee said although the 2013 RCI did not recommended solutions to “once and for all” solve the problem of illegal immigrants in the state, its findings could still be brought to the federal Cabinet for action.
The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) president said this when rejecting a suggestion by Bersih 2.0 for a second RCI but with more clout to investigate and make recommendations on the issue, including the infamous Project IC.
He also brushed aside Bersih chairman Thomas Fann’s call to otherwise let the courts decide on the RCI findings.
Project IC is a reference to alleged systematic granting of citizenship to illegal immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s, effectively changing the state’s demographics.
In making his suggestions, Fann said if the matter was not solved once and for all, “it will always be hanging over Sabah and it will always be political for people (since) there will be no clarity”.
“The government has to settle this matter. The political will must be there,” he was quoted as saying.
Today, Yong said having a second RCI would be redundant. “In terms of investigations, the first RCI is sufficient. But it was not sufficient in terms of its recommendations.
“I am not supportive of a second RCI because you will begin to forget about all the work done in the first one.
“The first had all the witnesses and evidence already presented. If a second RCI is done, the same thing will come back,” he said after launching SAPP’s 25th anniversary celebration in Penampang, near here.
Yong said the Cabinet should go through the recommendations of the first inquiry and act on them.
“The RCI concluded that Project IC may have existed. So we should take it from there … what actions will you take?” he said.
He said International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking, who is also the Warisan deputy president, should be the one to take the findings to the Cabinet.
“At federal level, we have three Sabahan ministers. But Darell was the most outspoken on this, therefore, he’s best suited to bring the findings to the Cabinet.
“The recommendations can be implemented by the government without having to go to court. If you go to court, the government will wash its hands and then you have to wait another 10 years,” he said.
The RCI began its public hearings on Jan 14, 2013, and wrapped up later that year. Those who testified included Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former Sabah chief minister Harris Salleh and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.
The report, made public on Dec 3, 2014, said there was evidence Project IC may have existed. However, it said no political parties were involved in the granting of citizenship to illegal immigrants, and attributed the problem to corrupt officials.