The royal commission of inquiry on immigrants in Sabah today heard that a total of 1.1 million voters had been removed from the electoral roll over seven years.

Continuing his testimony today, EC information technology assistant secretary Shafee Sajat said the numbers removed were from 2005 until the second quarter of last year.

"Of this, 979,943 were due to deaths and 78,340 of those removed were from Sabah," he said.

The other reasons for removal, he explained, could be due lost of citizenship, records that could not be verified with the National Registration Department, or change in voting status for civilians joining the police or army.

Shafee conceded that there could be double registration in cases where civilians who join the army or police did not inform the EC to remove their civilian registration and go on to register using their police or military numbers.

"However, when you vote, you must still present your identity card, and their identity cards have already been taken back (so there is no double voting)," he said.

He added the system had since been improved where authority cards of military men and police must now contain the identity card number when they were civilians.

Costly to maintain foreigners

Also taking the stand today was acting Sabah Prison Department deputy director Kalbin Mohd Salleh.

Kalbin explained that Sabah faced a heavy influx of illegal immigrants, causing overcrowding in the state's four prisons.

"There has been measures to help reduce overcrowding but it has been ineffective in Sabah due to the heavy influx," he said.

He added that between 2006 and last year, it costed a whopping RM604 million to maintain these foreigners in Sabah’s prisons.

As of last year, there were a total of 2,959 foreigners in Kota Kinabalu Prison, 678 in the Kota Kinabalu Women's Prison, 1,830 in Sandakan Prison and 1,672 in Tawau Prison.

A total of 62 witnesses had testified at the RCI hearing since it began on Jan 14.

The current third session of hearing, which lasted only two days, ended today and will resume on March 5 for four days, with another session scheduled for March 18 to 21.

~ Malaysiakini