SABAH RCI In a surprise development, former Sabah chief minister Harris Salleh, who was scheduled to take the stand again at the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on immigrants in Sabah today, abruptly backed out.

Harris, who had previously testified, was recalled to respond to former Sandakan district chief Hassnar Ibrahim.

NONEHassnar (left), this morning's first witness,had implicated Harris in the illegal granting of citizenship to immigrants for votes, dubbed 'Project IC'.

However, when hearing resumed at the Kota Kinabalu Court Complex in the afternoon with Harris as the next witness, he declined to take the stand.

"The witness said he will not be rebutting (Hassnar's testimony)," conducting officer Manoj Kurup informed the commission led by former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Steve Shim.

Harris was spotted in the morning, going into the waiting room for the RCI witnesses.

He had testified before the RCI in January and denied the existence of Project IC.

Harris issued instruction
Hassnar, who was the 201st witness today, testified that Harris had in 1985 instructed him to meet with then deputy home minister Megat Junid Megat Ayub to intensify the granting of blue identity cards to Muslim foreigners.

This was to boost the number of Muslim voters in Sabah in a bid to oust the PBS-led government that was perceived to be anti-Muslim.

Hassnar was arrested under the Internal Security Act in 1988, held for 60 days and then placed under restricted residence until 1990.

Aside from Hassnar, former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad's political secretary Abdul Aziz Shamsudin also took the stand today.

A total of 202 witnesses have testified at the RCI since the hearing began in January.

~ Malaysiakini