Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pakatan’s Sabah manifesto promises court action against ‘Projek IC’ culprits


BY CLARA CHOOI
ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
MARCH 24, 2013
File photo of illegal houses built along the Kota Kinabalu waterfront.KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has promised punishment for the masterminds of “Projek IC” in its election manifesto for Sabah, tapping into the deep sense of anger felt for decades by local tribes against the wanton award of ICs to foreigners.
The federal opposition said the ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) set up by the Najib administration would have its terms of reference improved on to ensure that the panel can hunt down those deemed responsible for the controversial initiative.
“Organise a more comprehensive RCI to resolve the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah, not only to clean up our citizenship system and to ensure only those who qualify are granted citizenships, but also to take legal action against those involved in Projek IC,” the pact said in its manifesto booklet uploaded online.
The promise comes even as Sabahans continue to reel in shock over the recent intrusion by a group of Filipino militants in their home state, an incident that has brightened the spotlight on the controversial “Projek IC”.
The militants, numbering in excess of 200, had landed without trouble in Lahad Datu on February 9, using an often-used and loosely guarded sea passage between Philippine’s Muslim south and the coastal district in northern Sabah.
Many are fingering “Projek IC” as the alleged root of the problem, claiming that the decades of “citizenship-for-vote” deals allegedly made between the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) administration and the Filipino foreigners should be blamed for the intrusion.
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 “Projek IC”, in which citizenships were allegedly given to immigrants in exchange for their votes.
The issue of illegal immigrants is an emotive one among Sabah natives like the Kadazandusun and Murut (KDM) communities, many of whom feel the state’s sovereignty has been stolen through the continued influx of foreigners from countries like the Philippines and Indonesia.
The recent intrusion by a group of Filipino militants has brightened the spotlight on “Projek IC”. — Reuters picIn Sabah, it is an open secret that the local tribes want the illegal immigrants shipped back to their home countries, often even blaming the group for robbing them of job opportunities and for the rise in the state’s social, economic and security problems.
Recent statistics from a 2010 census of Sabah’s population showed an extraordinary 390-per cent increase from 636, 431 citizens in 1970 to 3,120,040 citizens in 2010 ― more than double the national population growth of just 164 per cent.
Apart from the promise to hunt down the “Projek IC” perpetrators, Sabah PR also told local folk that under its rule, the state would finally gain its much sought-after autonomy, as enshrined in the 1963 Malaysia agreement.
It promised equal treatment of Sabahans to their brethren across the South China Sea, as well as a clean government founded on integrity and “zero corruption”.
“[We will] stop cronyism at all levels in the government by adopting open tender policies to prevent wastage and corruption,” the pact said in its manifesto.
PR also promised to review the state’s oil royalty agreements with the federal government, abolish cabotage policy, protect customary land rights of the indigenous tribes, better housing, better public facilities and infrastructure, and improved welfare aid for the poor, among others.
In Election 2008, BN lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority largely due to significant losses in the peninsula, where it won just 85 seats while the opposition swept 80 seats.
BN’s saving grace was in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan where the coalition trounced the opposition and made a near-clean sweep, winning 55 parliamentary seats to the opposition’s two.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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