Govt still in denial over ‘Project IC’
Deputy Home Minister Lee Chee Leong’s ignorant statement on the contentious ‘Project IC’ issue has stirred a hornet’s nest.
KOTA KINABALU: A federal-level deputy minister’s denial that Sabah is a victim of “Project IC” – a planned illegal immigrant population explosion engineered by the federal government – has stunned Sabah Barisan Nasional coalition members.
Deputy Home Minister Lee Chee Leong on Thursday raised a storm of protests from leaders on both sides of the political divide who are furious that the federal government is still in denial over the issue.
Lee, a senior MCA leader, has been accused by several Sabah politicians of playing to the tune of Umno which has been accused of granting citizenship and Malaysian identity cards to over 600,000 foreign migrant workers (predominantly Muslims from Indonesia and Mindanao in the Philippines) in Sabah, in exchange for their votes in elections.
Lee’s statement came days after Bernama quoted Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin acknowledging the problem.
Muhyiddin gave an undertaking to “look into whether the best way forward is a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) or other approaches”.
United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) information chief, Donald Peter Mojuntin, was among those stunned by Lee’s statement.
“This problem is quite different from the problem of forged or false identification documents. It is a serious allegation that has direct impact on our country’s security and sovereignty,” he said.
Mojuntin, who also chairs the Upko citizenship and security bureau, reminded Lee that Bakri Zinin, a Sabahan, when he was acting Sabah Commissioner of Police, had also described the matter as the “mother of all threats” to Sabah.
“With due respect to the deputy home minister who denied allegations by opposition parties about the existence of ‘Project IC’, it is not just the opposition parties saying so but also Sabah BN component parties like Upko, PBS and LDP.
“Perhaps the deputy minister should be given a tour of Kampung Boronuon or even the pasar (market) in Kota Kinabalu City.
“Al-Jazeera went to these places a few months ago and interviewed people who actually said
that they got their legal identification document through ‘Project IC’.
“This came out in Al-Jazeera’s international news broadcast on Astro channel 513,” he said.
Mojuntin said the home ministry should also check out the other refugee settlements in Sabah and Labuan.
“Holders of IMM13 (special immigration visit pass) not only reside here but also illegal immigrants holding Malaysian ICs and MyKad.
“These places are usually a hive of illegal activities where locals don’t even dare to venture,” he said.
Mojuntin also said Lee appeared unaware that Upko deputy president Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing had earlier also responded to his boss Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s request for proof in Parliament and had sent a set of documents containing facts and evidence to the ministry in early December 2010.
“Until now, there is no response apart from this latest remark by the deputy minister.
“We, Malaysians, in Sabah do not want our state and country to be inundated by foreigners who can easily come into the state and obtain legal identification documents through ‘Project IC’.
“This is a clear and present danger that will have dire repercussions on our future generations.
“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered including the extraordinary population explosion in Sabah between 1970 and 2000.
“This issue has been raised persistently for the better part of three decades. It’s been raised by the local people, leaders, politicians and NGOs.
“It is a persistent and prevalent issue that has been brought up through the mass media, blogs and social media (Facebook, Twitter).
“There have been various signature campaigns,” he said.
Mojuntin said it is an issue that cannot be “swept under the carpet. It won’t die down unless something concrete is done”.
“After all, a RCI to investigate the illegal appointment of judges (Lingam video clip) and another RCI to investigate the death of Teoh Beng Hock have been set up.
“Project IC and the issue of illegal immigrants are matters of national security.”
Slap on BN face
Opposition Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) also criticised Lee for denying the existence of Project IC.
MP Eric Majimbun, who is also a SAPP deputy president, said Lee’s statement is a slap in the face for all the state BN component parties that have been raising the issue all this while.
Majimbun believes Lee’s denial was planned to protect Umno after Upko had forced Muhyiddin to acknowledge the problem that was given credence by Tuaran MP Wilfred Bumburing when he submitted a detailed report on the issue to Hishammuddin a year ago.
“Now the answer comes from his deputy minister from MCA to protect Umno,” he said here yesterday.
Majimbun said that for Lee to ask for proof on the issue was also a blow to all BN component parties, especially PBS which had of late been silent on the issue.
“It’s proven loud and clear that Umno, the major decision-maker, could not be bothered (by the issue) as long as it satisfies its need,” he said.
He criticised Lee for asking for more proof given that Upko, a fellow BN party, had already provided sufficient evidence while at least two books published by Mutalib MD and Dr Chong Eng Leong provided details of the scam.
“I have on several instances highlighted the same issue in Parliament and brought it up in BN meetings to the former and current prime minister but no action was taken,” he added.
Majimbun said Lee and MCA’s denial was a classic example of federal leaders coming to Sabah to do as they please as if Sabahans are ignorant of issues that affect their rights and livelihood.
“Lee’s statement is a prelude to stopping the formation of a RCI… now MCA, as the servant of Umno, is trying to please its boss by covering up the problem,” he said.
Muhyiddin touched on the problem after a leaked US embassy cable carried an explosive charge against former Election Commission (EC) chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahim that he admitted to being involved in enrolling more than 60,000 voters holding illegally obtained Malaysian identity cards in the 1990s – on Umno’s orders.
The cable, posted on WikiLeaks, quoted former Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) chief Malek Husin as claiming that Rashid confessed this to him during a private meeting at Rashid’s house on Oct 25, 2006