Big spike in new voters before key 1994 Sabah polls, EC tells RCI

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By Boo Su-Lyn

KOTA KINABALU, May 28 — There was a jump of about 103,000 voters registered to cast their ballots in the 1994 Sabah state election that PBS won narrowly, but it lost the state later to Barisan Nasional (BN) through several defections, the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants heard today.

Yusniati Ishak, the secretary for the division of voter registration in the Election Commission (EC) headquarters, testified today that there were 646,719 eligible voters for the 1994 election, compared to 543,612 voters in the 1990 election.

“I didn’t do any research,” said Yusniati at the RCI here today, when asked to explain the jump in voters throughout the years.

Then-Sabah NRD director Ramli Kamarudin testified last January that then-deputy home minister, the late Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub, had ordered him to issue National Registration Department (NRD) receipts, which matched the names and IC numbers of registered voters, to immigrants to allow them to vote in the 1994 Sabah state election.

The state election saw PBS winning just 25 out of 48 state assembly seats.

But several PBS assemblymen defected to BN shortly after, causing the collapse of the PBS government.

Yusniati also said that there was an increase of about 120,000 eligible voters for the 1990 Sabah state election and another spike of about 149,000 eligible voters in Sabah for the 1982 general election.

Yusniati noted that there were slower increases of eligible voters registered in Sabah after the 1994 state election, with an increase of about 72,000 voters for elections in 1999, a decrease of about 21,000 voters for 2004 and an increase of about 39,000 voters for 2008.

Yusniati also said that there were 959,669 voters gazetted in Sabah as of August 2012, a jump of about 43,000 voters in just two months since June 2012 where 916,129 voters were gazetted.

The EC officer said there were 807,862 eligible voters registered in Sabah for elections in 2008, 768,943 for 2004, 790,131 for 1999, 646,719 for 1994, 543,612 for 1990, 423,067 for 1986, 358,809 for 1982, 208,861 for 1978, 230,469 for 1974 and 295,880 for 1969.

Pakistani Abdul Latif Jumaani reportedly testified at the RCI yesterday that he had voted in elections twice since getting his identity card (IC) in 1992 ― once in Ampang, Selangor and again in Bahau, Negri Sembilan ― during the administration of fifth prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who served from October 2003 until he stepped down in April 2009.

Several foreigners have testified about receiving blue ICs in Sabah within just a few years of arriving in the Borneo state and subsequently voted in elections.

A senior registrar in the Kota Kinabalu High Court, Melissa Chia, testified last week that foreigners, mostly Filipinos and Indonesians without Malaysian birth certificates, had told her — while applying for late birth registrations for their children in Tawau and Semporna — that they had received blue ICs through “Project IC”.

“Project IC” is a controversial programme mooted by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister who was in power from 1981 to 2003, that allegedly granted foreigners citizenship in exchange for votes in elections.

Former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh, who administered the state from 1976 to 1985, has denied at the RCI of the existence of “Project IC”.

A syndicate involving then-Sabah NRD directors had made at least RM11 million from selling ICs to illegal immigrants in Sabah, senior Special Branch (SB) officer Supt Ahmad Fauzan Mohamad testified last February.

The inquiry before the five-man panel led by former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Steve Shim Lip Kiong resumes tomorrow.

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