KOTA KINABALU Dec 19, 2011 : Mohd Akjan Ali Muhammad, the man who crowned himself Sultan of Sulu earlier this year, has reappeared to fight off calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into claims that foreigners had been granted citizenship for their votes.
Now the chairman of the Sabah branch of the Islamic Welfare and Sermon Organisation of Malaysia (Pekida Malaysia), Akjan said such ‘repeated’ calls for an RCI will only cause misunderstanding, ‘incite hatred’ and create disunity among the various ethnic groups in Sabah.
Akjan, who was detained to facilitate investigations into his coronation ceremony in February this year, said he categorically objected to the calls for the establishment of the RCI to probe the extraordinary increase of Sabah’s population and the issuance of Malaysian citizenship to foreigners.
He said the decision to grant Malaysian citizenship is the prerogative of the federal government, after determining that an applicant has fulfilled the various stringent criteria and requirements stipulated in the Federal Constitution.
He reminded that under the present state laws, a non-citizen can always apply for the Permanent Resident status after having resided in the state for seven years or more, and can apply for citizenship after living in the Sabah for 15 years or more.
Akjan also pointed out that there are 26 ethnic groups in Sabah who are qualified to apply for Malaysian citizenship through statutory declarations.
“Among these ethnic groups are the Suluks, Bajau-ubian, Simunul, Sungai, Kadazan-Dusun, Rungus, Idahan, Iranun, and Bisaya,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
Pekida, he said, rejects the argument made by various Sabah politicians and a parliamentary commission that RCI is the best way ahead on the issue.
RCI is ‘politically motivated’
The issuance of citizenship to those born in Sabah, before or after independence, or those holders of refugee documents or even those traders who have been here for many decades is valid and should not be questioned, he said.
As such, he said the repeated calls to set up RCI is a “politically-motivated act to undermine and to incite hatred against the present Barisan Nasional administration, the federal government in particular, without any considerations for the sentiment of the various ethnic groups in Sabah which included the Bajaus, Suluks, Bugis, Chinese, Indians, Pakistanis, Arabs etc, who have obtained their citizenship through legitimate means”.
Akjan, who is a former Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee, also criticised those who had been clamouring for the RCI, including from the BN component parties.
He said these groups believed that they have more rights than the other ethnic groups in the state.
“These groups of people have conveniently chosen to forget the historical facts of Sabah, that there are other ethnic groups who also possessed the equal rights as stipulated in the State Constitution,” he said.
Akjan warned those pushing for the establishment of the RCI to take a cue from the many cases of racial tension and unrest in other countries when certain ethnic groups try to deny the rights of the other ethnic groups.
He said that if the RCI promoters continue to push for it, it may one day backfire on them and they should instead spend some time studying the history of Sabah and the genesis of its various ethnic groups.
Pointing to natives in Sabah of Suluk origin, who he claimed were marginalized, Akjan said they had always remained loyal to the state despite their difficulty.
“Let us all continue to live harmoniously with mutual respect and tolerance for each other, in the true spirit of 1Malaysia, and refrain from insulting others or denying their rights as fellow Malaysian and Sabahan,” he said.
Stressing that this was important “to preserve the peace and harmony currently enjoyed by the people of Sabah of various ethnic groups”, he said Pekida Sabah supported Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in uniting Malaysians of different races through his 1Malaysia concept.
“We also fully support his constant effort in reaching out to the underprivileged Malaysians through the various government aid schemes such as the ongoing distribution of BR1M RM500 cash aid to families earning RM3,000 and below,” he said.
Pekida Sabah currently has around 19,000 registered members throughout Sabah.