GEORGE TOWN: A Chinese national today told the High Court he obtained a Malaysian passport after he agreed to pay RM400,000 for it.
Businessman Wang Dequn, of Shandong, said he was initially told he could get a passport for RM600,000 but managed to bargain for a lower price.
Wang, 58, said he had wanted a Malaysian passport as he travelled frequently to the country for business.
He was testifying in the trial of National Registration Department (JPN) assistant director Mohd Faizul Arifin and five others charged with a total of 32 counts of falsifying birth certificates and identity cards as part of a syndicate selling citizenships to China nationals.
Faizul is alleged to have issued Wang (also known as Ewe Chor Beng), Yang Xiaohong, Pheh Jin Leong, Tan Xiu Xiu and Lim Hock Eng with MyKads in September and December last year and in May this year.
Lai Chin Wah, 56, faces three charges under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 for selling a forged birth certificate, MyKad and passport to Wang.
Wang said he owned a construction company and other businesses in China and was interested in investing in the two artificial island resorts and a sand mining business off Kelantan waters.
He said he had first thought of getting a legitimate Malaysian passport through investment, similar to what he had done in the Pacific island state of Vanuatu.
“Being a Chinese passport holder, I realised that there were a lot of obstructions. I wanted a passport like the Vanuatuan one so I can go in and out of Malaysia easily,” he said.
Wang said a Malaysian friend told him how to obtain a passport through legal means and he was even willing to settle as a Malaysia My Second Home pass holder if a passport was not possible.
He said he was referred to a man in Thailand in mid-2018, who had told him he could get a Malaysian passport through legitimate means.
“I told this man that I wanted a legal passport. If it is not legal, I don’t want it,” he said in Mandarin, which was translated by an interpreter.
Wang said the man, whom he identified as “Liu Ge”, then asked him for RM600,000 in cash, which was later reduced to RM400,000 after bargaining.
He said he gave RM200,000 in Hong Kong dollars and Chinese renminbi as a downpayment in September 2018.
Wang said Liu then asked to meet Lai, one of the accused, “to get the passport application done”.
He said they met at Gurney Hotel in December last year and was brought by Liu and Lai to a building he identified as the JPN office on Anson Road here.
“I was asked to sign some documents and I had my thumbprints taken through a machine.
“I could not read Malay or English but I signed it anyway since it was a government office and there was an officer wearing a uniform,” he said.
Deputy public prosecutor Yusaini Amer Abdul Karim asked Wang if he could recognise the officer among the six accused in the dock.
Wang pointed to Faizul Arifin, saying: “Yes, I remember him, handsome fellow.”
He also identified Lai, the alleged middleman, in the dock.
In February this year, Wang said, Lai gave him “a card with my picture” on it at Gurney Hotel. At that time, he said, he did not realise that the name on the MyKad was not his.
The MyKad bore the name “Ewe Chor Beng”.
Wang said he asked Lai why he was not given a Malaysian passport, which he wanted, and was told the card was required before he could apply for one.
He said that in March, Lai brought him to an immigration office, where he was given his passport in an hour.
He said he only realised the passport had a different name when he was arrested by the police since he could only read and write in Mandarin.
Wang was caught by police at the Penang International Airport in August and was sentenced to three months’ jail for possession of fake travel documents.
He is serving his third month at the Jawi Prison and will be released on Nov 11 and deported to China on Nov 13.
Faizul and the five others are charged under Section 25(1)(i) of the National Registration Regulations 1990, which provides for a jail term of not more than three years, or a fine of not more than RM20,000, or both, upon conviction.
The trial before Justice Akhtar Tahir continues.