Both the federal and the state Umno-BN governments are in a standoff over the issue of a RCI on the exponential increase in Sabah's illegal population.
KOTA KINABALU May 1, 2012: The federal and state Barisan Nasional leaders are in a standoff over the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on the rapid increase of the population of Sabah since the 1990s when peninsula-based Umno spread its wings there.
On one side is the state BN leaders, saying that the RCI is “a done deal”. And when a little later, nothing happened, they chant “it must be set up”. Then when that argument fails to elicit a response, they feign exasperation.
On the other side are the country’s top federal government leaders, all from the peninsula. They simply lie low and say nothing with regard to the RCI.
That Putrajaya is not listening to the Sabah leaders is nothing new. Many including former Malaysian Human Rights Commission vice-chairman Simon Sipaun, once the Sabah state secretary, are suspicious of the motives of all those “involved” in the case.
“Even if we have the RCI under this government, I doubt whether they would be sincerely helpful,” said Sipaun, who is tapped to be among those selected to be on the RCI if it is set up.
In candid remarks after launching a writing competition here, he said he has his doubts about the effectiveness of an RCI under the present Umno-BN regime.
“It [exponential increase in illegal population] has been part of the agenda of many politicians in Sabah… you cannot expect them to look at things that are politically beneficial to them”.
He pointed out how Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had come to Sabah twice since it was first revealed that the Ccabinet had agreed to set up a RCI and yet said nothing about it despite its importance.
Sipaun believes the government is playing for time to iron out “terms of reference” for the RCI that would shackle the inquiry.
‘Charge the culprits’
He said it was surprising that though a book had been published which named state and federal leaders as being involved in the sudden increase in the population of the state – a treasonous act – they had not disputed their role.
“The obvious question is why are there illegal immigrants in Sabah if the federal government does not allow them to come in? This has not been answered.
“The federal government is responsible for immigration, for our security, for taking care of our borders… let’s say if you and I were to go to the Philippines, we cannot just go in without a valid travel document, but this is happening in Sabah.
“So simple people like me begin to doubt how effective the RCI can be under this BN government,” he said.
He questioned how much genuine cooperation the RCI would get when investigating government involvement.
“I doubt the recommendations made by the RCI would be acted on,” he said.
Sipaun strongly believes the opposition could sort out problems posed by the alleged granting of citizenship to illegal immigrants in exchange for their votes.
“I think if the opposition wins [the impending 13th general election) and then we have the RCI, they would be just as interested as true Sabahans to find out the truth about this,” he said.
Sipaun added that if he had his way, the terms of reference for the inquiry should include a provision that those people found to be the culprits be charged and prosecuted.