By Boo Su-Lyn
KOTA KINABALU, Jan 29 – A then-Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) director sold 16,000 NRD receipts for more than RM1million that enabled immigrants in Sabah to vote, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants heard today.
Special Branch (SB) officer DSP Badaruddin Ismail, who works in Kelantan, testified today that Ramli Kamarudin sold each receipt for RM250 between 1993 and 1995 to illegal immigrants from the Philippines, India, Pakistan and other countries.
“He (Ramli) said he just did it for the money,” Badaruddin told the RCI here today.
Badaruddin, who had interrogated Ramli, stressed that Ramli said he had done so on his own accord for personal gain without instructions from higher authorities.
Ramli, however, told the RCI recently that then-Deputy Home Minister, the late Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub, had ordered him to issue NRD receipts, which matched the names and IC numbers of registered voters, to immigrants.
Ramli has said that about 200 NRD receipts were issued in five or six state constituencies, which the government considered difficult to win, before the 1994 state election.
The 1994 state election saw Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) winning just 25 out of 48 state assembly seats.
But several PBS MPs defected to Barisan Nasional (BN) shortly after, causing the collapse of the PBS government.
Ramli said that he had used some of the RM1million for personal matters and distributed the rest to his officers and to organise a sports festival in Penang for his subordinates, according to Badaruddin.
The SB officer added that Ramli distributed 14,000 NRD receipts among the latter’s subordinates to be issued to immigrants, while 2,000 receipts were personally issued by Ramli to certain people.
Another then-Sabah NRD director called Datuk Abdul Rauf Sani had sold 6,305 identity cards to Filipino and Indonesian immigrants, as well as locals, for RM167,300, Sarawak SB chief Datuk Haji Ibrahim Zakaria told the RCI earlier today.
Ibrahim added that 94 people, including 24 NRD officials, were arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) from 1994 to 2000 for issuing identity cards in Sabah illegally.
“No, he (Rauf) did not say that he acted upon instructions, but he acted on his own,” said Ibrahim.
“From the intelligence I gathered, it is more for gaining rewards, profit,” added Ibrahim, who was wearing a black suit and red tie.
Asked if Ibrahim believed that Rauf was acting on his own, Ibrahim said: “He’s an intelligent person, educated overseas, very communicative, a certain level of position in government service. I took what he said as the truth.”
Rauf, however, told the RCI recently that blue identity cards were also issued to increase the number of Muslim voters in Sabah.
He has said he was aware that immigrants in Sabah were taught how to vote in elections, otherwise their identity cards would be cancelled.
Former Sabah NRD assistant registrar Kee Dzulkifly Kee Abd Jalil testified recently that 100,000 blue identity cards were given to Filipino, Indonesian and Pakistani immigrants in Sabah in 1993.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister who was in power from 1981 to 2003, has been accused of spearheading the so-called “Project IC”, in which citizenships were allegedly given to immigrants for their votes.
But former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who administered the state from 1976 to 1985, has denied at the RCI the existence of “Project IC”.
Dr Mahathir told a recent press conference that foreigners in Sabah had indeed received citizenship, but stressed that it was “within the law”.
The inquiry before former chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong resumes tomorrow.